Transcript: COVID-19 and Immigration Uncertainty | May 07, 2020

Steve sits in a room with white walls, a low slanted ceiling and several framed pictures on the walls including one of George Drew and one of Walter Kronkite. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a white shirt and a gray plaid tie.

A caption on screen reads "COVID-19 and immigration uncertainty. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says SINCE MOST NON-ESSENTIAL TRAVEL IS ON HOLD, YOU'D BE FORGIVEN FOR THINKING THAT IMMIGRATION ISN'T REALLY AN ISSUE DURING THIS COVID CRISIS. BUT IT IS: FOR PEOPLE HERE IN THE COUNTRY AWAITING STATUS, FOR REFUGEES IN UNCERTAIN SITUATIONS, FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS, AND MANY OTHERS AS WELL. JOINING US NOW FOR THEIR INSIGHTS ON SOME OF THE MORE VULNERABLE GROUPS, WE WELCOME: FRANCISCO RICO-MARTINEZ, CO-DIRECTOR OF FCJ REFUGEE CENTRE. HE'S IN HIS OFFICE IN OAKWOOD VILLAGE IN TORONTO...

Francisco is in his fifties, with receding white hair and a prominent full beard. He's wearing glasses and a patterned black sweater.

Steve continues AND RUPALEEM BHUYAN, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN SOCIAL WORK AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO AND A MEMBER OF THE RIGHTS OF NON-STATUS WOMEN NETWORK. SHE'S AT HER HOME ON THE DANFORTH IN TORONTO.

Rupaleem is in her forties, with long, curly graying-brown hair. She's wearing a striped blue sweater.

Steve continues IT'S GREAT TO HAVE YOU TWO WITH US TONIGHT FOR THIS IMPORTANT AND TIMELY CONVERSATION. FRANCISCO, I WONDER IF YOU COULD JUST START US OFF BY BREAKING DOWN FOR US WHO, IN YOUR VIEW, ARE SORT OF THE MOST VULNERABLE GROUPS AMONG US TODAY IN THIS COVID CRISIS?

The caption changes to "Francisco Rico-Martinez. FCJ Refugee Centre."

Francisco says WELL, THANK YOU FOR THE INVITATION FIRST, STEVE. THE GROUPS THAT ARE THE MOST VULNERABLE ARE, AND WE KNOW THIS IN OUR OFFICE BECAUSE WE ARE DEALING WITH THE ISSUES EVERY DAY, ARE THE MIGRANT WORKERS. MIGRANT WORKERS COULD BE DEFINED AS A PERSON THAT CAME TO CANADA TO WORK. AND SO SOME OF THEM DON'T HAVE LEGAL STATUS. SOME OF THEM ARE HERE TO WORK, BUT THEY DON'T HAVE ANY LEGAL STATUS OR ANY RIGHTS IN CANADA. INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS ARE VERY VULNERABLE BECAUSE THEY HAVE MADE A LOT OF INVESTMENTS TO COME TO WORK AND THEY DON'T FIND A WAY TO SURVIVE HERE BECAUSE EVERYTHING IS CLOSED AND THEY ARE THE FIRST TO BE LET GO IN ANY OF THE BUSINESSES OR PLACES OF WORK, YOU KNOW, AND THE FAMILIES OF NON-STATUS AND INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS ARE AT HOME AND THEY DON'T HAVE EVEN FOOD TO PUT ON THE TABLE OR MONEY TO PAY THE RENT...

Steve says LET ME JUMP IN FOR A SECOND, FRANCISCO, BECAUSE YOU USED A TERM THERE AND I WANT TO MAKE SURE EVERYBODY UNDERSTANDS THE TERM. YOU TALKED ABOUT NON-STATUS AS OPPOSED TO REFUGEE AS OPPOSED TO IMMIGRANT. CAN YOU SETTLE IT ALL FOR US?

Francisco says YES. FOR EXAMPLE, A NON-STATUS IS A PERSON WHO HAS COME TO CANADA SOMETIMES BECAUSE THEY DON'T HAVE AN OPTION TO WORK, AND THEY DON'T HAVE THE POSSIBILITY TO BE REGULARLIZED IN CANADA. THEY DON'T HAVE THE POSSIBILITY TO MAKE AN APPLICATION TO BECOME A PERMANENT RESIDENT OR SOMETHING, BUT THEY ARE WORKING AND THEY ARE WORKING IN OUR SOCIETY. REFUGEES ARE FLEEING PERSECUTION. AND THEY COME TO CANADA AND THEY TRY TO MAKE A CLAIM FOR PROTECTION, AND THEY ARE STAYING FOR A PERIOD OF TIME LEGALLY IN CANADA. YOU HAVE REFUGEE CLAIMANTS. YOU HAVE REFUGEES THAT ARE ACCEPTED OVERSEAS AND BROUGHT IN TO CANADA LEGALLY AS A PERMANENT RESIDENT. BUT THERE'S ALWAYS CONFUSION. PEOPLE ARE CALLING EVERYBODY A REFUGEE WHEN IN REALITY WE HAVE MIGRANTS, MIGRANTS WORKERS, WE HAVE NON-STATUS MIGRANTS, WE HAVE REFUGEES IN DIFFERENT CATEGORIES AS WELL.

Steve says OKAY. THANKS FOR THAT CLARIFICATION. RUPALEEM, LET ME JUST GET YOU TO AMPLIFY ON THAT AND TELL US FROM YOUR VANTAGE POINT IN WHAT WAYS COVID-19 HAS AFFECTED THESE VULNERABLE GROUPS WITHIN US.

The caption changes to "Rupaleem Bhuyan. Rights of non-status women network. University of Toronto."

Rupaleem says YES, THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME, STEVE, AND ALSO GLAD TO BE HERE WITH FRANCISCO AND THE WORK OF FCJ REFUGEE CENTRE. WHAT WE'RE SEEING ACROSS CANADA IS NOW HAD PANDEMIC HAS SHED LIGHT ON EXISTING INEQUALITIES AND REALLY EXACERBATED SOME OF THE VULNERABILITIES OF GROUPS. IN THE CASE OF IMMIGRATION, CANADA HAS A LONG HISTORY OF WELCOMING PEOPLE TO SETTLE PERMANENTLY IN CANADA, BUT IN THE LAST 20 YEARS HAS REALLY MARKEDLY INCREASED THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE WHO ARE ADMITTED, MEANING THEY ARE PROVIDED A RESIDENT PERMIT TO LIVE, TO WORK, ON A TEMPORARY BASIS OR AS INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS, AND AS FRANCISCO WAS SAYING, THERE ARE SOME ALSO APPLYING FOR REFUGEE STATUS OR HUMANITARIAN CLAIMS. AND THE NUMBERS ARE QUITE PHENOMENAL. SO IN 2019, AN ESTIMATED 1.2 MILLION PEOPLE WERE LIVING IN CANADA WITH A TEMPORARY RESIDENT PERMIT. MANY TIMES THESE FOLKS ARE HERE AND PERMITTED TO LIVE TEMPORARILY. THE VULNERABILITY COMES IN IF THEIR ABILITY TO REMAIN IN CANADA IS TIED TO AN EMPLOYER. IT CREATES A LOT OF INEQUALITY, ESPECIALLY FOLKS WORKING IN LOW WAGE JOBS. WE SEE THIS IN THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR, WE SEE THIS IN [indiscernible] SERVICES, EVERYTHING FROM GROCERY CLERKS TO PEOPLE WORKING IN FOOD INDUSTRIES, AND THOSE WORKING CONDITIONS ARE ALREADY A CHALLENGE, ESPECIALLY IF EMPLOYERS ARE NOT PROVIDING A SAFE WORK ENVIRONMENT OR PERSONAL PROTECTION EQUIPMENT, AND A LOT OF THOSE WORKERS ARE ALSO LIKELY GOING TO WORK. THEY DON'T HAVE THE OPTION TO STAY AT HOME. SO THE VULNERABILITY IS EXACERBATED. WE ALSO SEE CONDITIONS WHERE EMPLOYERS PUTTING PRESSURE FOR MAINTAINING SOME ECONOMIC OUTPUT ARE COMPROMISING THE SAFETY OF THEIR WORKERS. SOME OF THE AGRICULTURAL WORKERS WHO CAME ON SEASONAL PERMITS, SO THEY'RE ALLOWED TO ENTER CANADA FOR THE GROWING SEASON, THEY WERE REQUIRED BY LAW, BY THE GOVERNMENT, TO QUARANTINE THEIR WORKERS. THE EMPLOYERS DIDN'T ALWAYS PROVIDE ADEQUATE FOOD, HOWEVER. SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN WHEN EMPLOYERS WHO ARE HOUSING WORKERS ARE ABIDING BY THE REGULATIONS TO LIMIT THE SPREAD OF COVID BY ENFORCING A QUARANTINE BUT NOT PROVIDING ADEQUATE HEALTH OR FOOD DURING THAT TIME PERIOD. THOSE ARE JUST SOME EXAMPLES. WE ARE ALSO SEEING THE RISK OF LOSING STATUS. PEOPLE WHO ENTER CANADA WITH A PERMIT, IT'S SO EASY TO FALL OUT OF STATUS, TO NOT HAVE THE FEES OR THE FUNDS TO PAY TO RENEW YOUR PERMIT, IF YOU NEED TO CHANGE EMPLOYERS. I'VE SEEN THIS IN MY WORK WITH MIGRANT CARE-GIVERS. THE TIME IT TAKES TO FIND A NEW EMPLOYER, BECAUSE THEIR PERMIT ONLY ALLOWS THEM TO WORK WITH ONE PERSON, IT'S A CLOSED PERMIT, AND THEN TO APPLY FOR A NEW PERMIT CAN OFTEN TAKE UP TO EIGHT MONTHS. DURING THAT TIME PERIOD, PEOPLE ARE NOT ELIGIBLE TO WORK LEGALLY, AND THEY ALSO AREN'T ELIGIBLE TO A LOT OF THE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE THAT'S AVAILABLE LIKE THROUGH THE CANADIAN EMERGENCY RELIEF FUND. SO...

Steve says LET ME PICK UP ON THAT.

Rupaleem says SURE.

Steve says I WANT TO PICK UP ON CERB. WE'LL TAKE ONE PROGRAM, THE CANADIAN EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT, WAS OBVIOUSLY PROVIDED A LOT OF ECONOMIC RELIEF TO THOSE WHO NEED IT. FRANCISCO, ARE IMMIGRANTS, ARE NON-STATUS PEOPLE, ARE REFUGEES, ARE THEY ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE THE CERB?

Francisco says IN SOME OCCASIONS, YES, SOME PEOPLE, YES, BUT THE MAJORITY OF THEM, NO. FOR INSTANCE, THE PERSON THAT IS WORKING WITHOUT A WORK PERMIT IN CANADA, THEY DON'T RECEIVE AN EMPLOYMENT RECORD, THEY DON'T HAVE A SOCIAL INSURANCE NUMBER, THEY DON'T HAVE THE MEANS TO APPLY, EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE BEEN WORKING HERE FOR SOMETIMES MANY YEARS. REFUGEES WHEN THEY JUST ARRIVE, THEY HAVEN'T RECEIVED A WORK PERMIT YET, THEY HAVEN'T RECEIVED A SOCIAL INSURANCE NUMBER YET, EVEN THOUGH THEY WERE WORKING AND TRYING TO SURVIVE. INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS DON'T QUALIFY BECAUSE THE HOURS THEY HAVE BEEN WORKING WHEN THEY ARE STUDYING DON'T GIVE THEM THE POSSIBILITY TO QUALIFY AND THEY ARE NOT MAKING ENOUGH MONEY TO SAVE 5,000 dollars TO APPLY. SO MIGRANT WORKERS, FORGET IT. THEY ARE NOT EVEN HERE. AND IF THEY ARE HERE, THEY ARE AT A FARM AND THEY DON'T SPEAK THE LANGUAGE ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND, THEN THEY MAY QUALIFY IN ALL OF THESE AREAS. SO THE WHOLE PROGRAM OF BENEFITS BENEFITS, THERE'S NO TARGET, IT'S NOT LEADING TO THE PEOPLE MOST IN NEED, THE MIGRANT WORKERS, THE REFUGEES, THE INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AND PEOPLE WITHOUT STATUS THAT ARE HERE. SO THAT'S WHY OUR SLOGAN IN OUR OFFICE IS: WE DON'T WANT TO LEAVE ANYONE BEHIND. BECAUSE THIS IS A PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE. IF WE LEFT SOMEONE BEHIND, THIS IS GOING TO COME AND HAUNT US AS A SOCIETY BECAUSE THAT PERSON MAY BE IN A VULNERABLE SITUATION OR DOUBLE VULNERABILITIES.

Steve says RUPALEEM, HELP US UNDERSTAND. IF THEY'RE NOT ELIGIBLE FOR THE CANADIAN EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT AND IF SO MUCH OF THEIR EXISTENCE HERE, FOR EXAMPLE, MAY BE TIED TO A JOB THAT NO LONGER EXISTS, HOW ARE THESE FOLKS MANAGING RIGHT NOW?

Rupaleem says RIGHT. AND I THINK THE BENEFIT IS INCREDIBLE FOR PEOPLE WHO HAVE A SIN NUMBER AND ARE ABLE TO APPLY, WHO ARE ELIGIBLE AND HAVE THE MEANS, MAYBE THEY HAVE THE COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY, SINCE IT REQUIRES THAT, AS WELL AS THE SUPPORT TO APPLY. ANYONE WHO DOESN'T HAVE A CURRENT SIN NUMBER COULD INCLUDE, AS FRANCISCO WAS SAYING, INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS WHO HAVE THEIR STUDY PERMIT EXPIRED, TEMPORARY FOREIGN WORKERS WHO THEIR WORK PERMIT HAS EXPIRED. THEY STILL HAVE A VALID STATUS TO REMAIN. THERE'S A TIME PERIOD WHERE THEY CAN REAPPLY. BUT THEY'RE USUALLY WITHOUT A SIN NUMBER DURING THAT PERIOD. AND THEN WE ALSO HAVE MANY WORKERS, PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN LIVING IN CANADA, WE DON'T HAVE AN ACTUAL NUMBER, THE ESTIMATES ARE BETWEEN HALF A MILLION OR A MILLION, WHO ARE NON-STATUS. MANY OF THESE FOLKS WORK IN THESE ESSENTIAL JOBS. THEY'RE DOING PERSONAL CARE WORK, THEY'RE WORKING IN GROCERY STORES, THEY'RE CLEANING BUSINESSES. SO THEY'RE OFTEN AT RISK, BUT THEY DON'T HAVE EITHER THE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO STAY AT HOME AND THEY DON'T HAVE THE HEALTH INSURANCE OFTEN. SO THERE'S A KIND OF DOUBLE VULNERABILITY THERE. AND THERE ARE MECHANISMS IN PLACE, LIKE THE MIGRANT WORKERS ACTION ALLIANCE IS RECOMMENDING... WE'RE USING A TAX I.D. NUMBER SINCE MANY WORKERS DO FILE FOR TAXES. THIS NUMBER IS AVAILABLE AND COULD BE A MECHANISM TO DISTRIBUTE RESOURCES WITHOUT HAVING TO GO THROUGH THE INCOME TAX, WHICH IS MORE EXCLUSIONARY FOR PEOPLE WITHOUT A SIN NUMBER.

Steve says TOMORROW NIGHT WE'RE GOING TO DO A PROGRAM ON THE FACT THAT DISABLED PEOPLE IN OUR MIDST ARE REALLY DISPROPORTIONATELY FEELING THIS COVID CRISIS, PARTICULARLY, OBVIOUSLY, IF THEY LIVE IN LONG-TERM CARE HOMES FOR EXAMPLE. WE'LL DO THAT TOMORROW NIGHT. BUT I DO WANT TO ASK... FRANCISCO, AIL HE START WITH YOU ON THIS... WHETHER YOU HAVE EVIDENCE OF THE FACT THAT PEOPLE IN THIS PRECARIOUS SITUATION THAT YOU'VE DESCRIBED ARE ALSO DISPROPORTIONATELY EITHER GETTING COVID-19 OR ARE AFFECTED BY IT IN SOME OTHER WAY?

Francisco says YES, AND YOU JUST HAVE TO SEE WHERE THEY LIVE. MANY OF THEM ARE IN SHELTERS AND IN CROWDED SPACES, ARE REFUGEE CLAIMANTS, ARE PEOPLE WITHOUT STATUS, ARE PEOPLE THAT ARE HAVING TO MAKE A CLAIM AND THEY DON'T HAVE A JOB AND THEY ARE PUT OUT ON THE STREETS BY THE LANDLORD. WHY? BECAUSE MANY OF THEM LIVE IN A VERY NON-LEGAL SETUP OF HOUSES OR ROOMING HOUSES THAT ARE NOT PROPERLY LICENSED. SO THE LANDLORD CAN CALL THE POLICE AND SAY WE HAVE AN INTRUDER HERE AND PUT THEM ON THE STREET. SO WE HAVE MANY PEOPLE THAT ARE THERE, AND WE KNOW THAT THIS IS WHERE THE COVID-19 IS DOING. THE OTHER THING THAT IS HAPPENING IS THEN THEY DON'T HAVE THE... THEY DON'T BELIEVE IT IS POSSIBLE FOR THEM TO GO TO THE HOSPITAL WITHOUT BEING REPORTED TO THE AUTHORITIES. SO WE DON'T KNOW HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE JUST HOLDING IN, YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN, AND STAYING AT HOME... BECAUSE FOR THEM IT IS VERY PRECIOUS TO BE IN CANADA BECAUSE THERE IS NO FUTURE IF THEY GO BACK TO THEIR COUNTRIES...

Steve says I'VE GOT TO FOLLOW UP ON ONE THING YOU SAID THERE, THOUGH, FRANCISCO. PREMIER FORD HAS SAID THERE IS A PROHIBITION ON KICKING ANYBODY OUT OF THEIR APARTMENT RIGHT NOW FOR ANY REASON. ARE YOU SAYING THAT'S HAPPENING TO NON-STATUS OR IMMIGRANTS OR REFUGEES RIGHT NOW?

Francisco says YES, IT'S HAPPENING, AND IT'S HAPPENING. PEOPLE HAVE BEEN CALLING THE POLICE. AND WE KNOW BECAUSE PEOPLE PHONE US. SOME LANDLORDS ARE SAYING, IF YOU DON'T GO, WE ARE GOING TO CALL THE AUTHORITIES. WE ARE GOING TO CALL IMMIGRATION. WE ARE GOING TO PUT YOU IN DETENTION. WE ARE GOING TO DO THIS AND THAT. WE ARE GOING TO REPORT YOU TO THE AUTHORITIES. SO THE PEOPLE... SOMETIMES THEY DON'T CALL THE POLICE BECAUSE THE PERSON LEAVES BECAUSE THEY KNOW THAT THEY WILL BE AT RISK, WHICH IS NOT TRUE, BECAUSE THE IMMIGRATION AND THE CANADIAN BORDER SERVICES AGENCY ARE NOT DETAINING PEOPLE RIGHT NOW BECAUSE THEY KNOW IF THEY MOVE PEOPLE TO THE DETENTION CENTRE, THEY ARE GOING TO MAKE IT CROWDED AND THE CONDITIONS ARE GOING TO BE OUT OF HAND. SO THEY ARE NOT DETAINING PEOPLE. BUT THE ORDINARY MIGRANT, THE NON-STATUS, THE REFUGEE CLAIMANT, THEY DON'T KNOW ABOUT THIS. AND THEREFORE THEY ARE SCARED, AND THAT CREATES AGAIN... INCREASES THE VULNERABILITIES OF THESE PEOPLE.

Steve says OKAY. RUPALEEM, I WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT CHILDREN, BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT THE CANADIAN CHILD BENEFIT HAS BEEN BUMPED UP AT THIS PARTICULAR TIME TO HELP WITH ADDITIONAL EXPENSES, WITH KIDS STAYING HOME MUCH MORE THAN THEY OTHERWISE WOULD HAVE BEEN BECAUSE OUR SCHOOLS ARE CLOSED. DO YOU KNOW WHETHER ANY OF THE GROUPS THAT WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT HERE TONIGHT ARE ALSO ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE THE BUMPED UP CHILD BENEFIT?

Rupaleem says RIGHT. AND I THINK THAT THE BENEFIT IS HELPFUL. INTERESTING, THE CERB HAS REALLY SHOWED THE KIND OF INCOME IS HIGHER THAN SOME OF THE SOCIAL ASSISTANCE PROVIDED TO LOW INCOME FAMILIES. I THINK IT IS NECESSARY TO MAINTAIN THIS ADDITIONAL FUNDING FOR THE CHILD BENEFIT THROUGHOUT THE DURATION OF THE PANDEMIC. THAT'S SOMETHING I KNOW CAMPAIGN 2000, AN ANTIPOVERTY CAMPAIGN, HAS BEEN CALLING FOR. WE ALSO NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO THE FAMILIES THAT ARE EXCLUDED. BECAUSE MANY JURISDICTIONS ARE REQUIRING THE PARENTS' IMMIGRATION STATUS TO BE REPORTED AND TO BE VALID. MANY CHILDREN WHO ARE BORN IN CANADA, ACROSS CANADA, MAY HAVE A PARENT, ONE OR MORE, WHO HAVE A PRECARIOUS STATUS, EITHER A TEMPORARY STATUS OR THEY'RE OUT OF STATUS CURRENTLY OR THEY MAY BE UNDOCUMENTED. AND THESE FAMILIES ARE CURRENTLY BEING EXCLUDED. SO WE NEED TO ENSURE THAT ALL CHILDREN HAVE ACCESS TO THIS, IRRESPECTIVE OF THEIR PARENTS' IMMIGRATION STATUS. AND THIS IS TRUE IN ONTARIO AS WELL AS OTHER PROVINCES.

Steve says LET ME FOLLOW UP... FRANCISCO, PLEASE, YES.

Francisco says THERE ARE CANADIAN-BORN CHILDREN AND THEY DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO THIS BECAUSE THEY ARE BORN TO NON-STATUS PARENTS. AND IT IS NOT POSSIBLE TO MAKE AN APPLICATION FOR RECEIVING THIS. AND WE HAVE BEEN TRYING THROUGH ONTARIO WORKS AND DIFFERENT THINGS, AND THE ONTARIO WORKS IS SAYING, WELL, IF THE PARENT DOESN'T HAVE STATUS, SORRY, WE ARE NOT GOING TO ACCEPT THE APPLICATION, AND THE CHILD IS PUT IN A VERY DIFFICULT SITUATION, AND THEY ARE CANADIAN CHILDREN. THEY ARE NOT RECEIVING ANY OF THE BENEFIT WHAT IS FOR CANADIANS AND PERMANENT RESIDENTS.

Steve says RUPALEEM, I WANT TO... I WANT TO SHIFT OUR CONVERSATION A LITTLE BIT HERE TO WHAT THE GROUPS THAT WE'VE BEEN TALKING ABOUT MAY BE FEELING WHEN THEY SEE, FOR EXAMPLE, NOW, I'M NOT BEING CRITICAL OF THE POLICE HERE, THIS IS THEIR JOB, BUT THERE ARE MORE POLICE NOW ROAMING THROUGH THE STREETS, ROAMING THROUGH OUR PARKS, TRYING TO ENSURE THAT PEOPLE PRACTICE PHYSICAL DISTANCING, THEY ARE GIVING OUT TICKETS AND CITATIONS FOR PEOPLE WHO DON'T DO THAT. BUT IF YOU'RE A NON-STATUS PERSON HERE OR IF YOU'RE A REFUGEE PERSON HERE AND YOU SEE THE POLICE COMING BY, DO I INFER FROM THAT THAT THAT CREATES MORE ANXIETY THAN IT WOULD FOR ANYBODY ELSE?

Rupaleem says ABSOLUTELY. EVEN BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, THE THREAT OF DEPORTATION, EVEN IF PEOPLE HAVE LEGAL STATUS, IS SUCH A POWERFUL FORCE THAT INTIMIDATES PEOPLE, AND ON THE ONE HAND, MANY PEOPLE WHO HAVE PRECARIOUS STATUS, WHO ARE NON-STATUS, THEY'RE WORKING REALLY HARD TO BECOME PERMANENT RESIDENTS. THEY DON'T WANT TO HAVE ANY ENGAGEMENT WITH THE LAW THAT WOULD CREATE A PROBLEM, MUCH LESS LEAD TO A DETENTION OR DEPORTATION. WHAT THAT MEANS IS THAT PEOPLE ARE OFTEN AFRAID TO DO THINGS THAT EVERYDAY PEOPLE MAY TAKE CASUALLY, LIKE J-WALK OR CROSS THE STREET BETWEEN INTERSECTIONS. WHAT I'VE SEEN IS EVEN SOME OF THE CARE-GIVERS I WORK WITH, PEOPLE WHO WORK IN HOMES AND ARE STILL PROVIDING CARE FOR CHILDREN OR ELDERLY, THEY'RE AFRAID TO LEAVE THE HOME TO GO FOR A WALK DURING WORK HOURS WITH THE CHILDREN THEY'RE CARING FOR, EVEN IF THE PARENTS ARE BUSY OCCUPIED IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE HOUSE WITH THEIR PAID WORK, BECAUSE THEY ARE AFRAID THAT THEY WILL BE SEEN AS VIOLATING THESE STAY-AT-HOME ORDERS, AND THAT PUTS BOTH MENTAL STRESS ON THEM AS WELL AS THE PEOPLE THEY'RE CARING FOR. SO THAT'S JUST ONE EXAMPLE OF HOW THE FEAR OF INTIMIDATION... AND WE ALSO SEE, UNFORTUNATELY, IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF TORONTO, THE KIND OF HISTORY OF RACIAL PROFILING AND THE UNFAIR KIND OF TREATMENT, THE BRUTALITY AGAINST ESPECIALLY BLACK AND DARKER SKINNED RACIALIZED YOUTH AND MEN IS REINFORCING KIND OF AN INEQUITY. I KNOW SOME OF THE PARKS IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD WHERE I LIVE, I SEE LOTS OF PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY YOUNG GROUPS OF PEOPLE GATHERING IN THE PARK, AND I'VE ALWAYS BEEN CURIOUS TO SEE, WELL, WHO IS PAYING ATTENTION? UNFORTUNATELY I KNOW IN DIFFERENT PARTS OF TORONTO, THEY DON'T HAVE EVEN INDIVIDUALS WHO ARE WALKING AROUND CAN BE INTIMIDATED OR HARASSED IF THEIR SKIN COLOUR OR THE REGION THAT THEY'RE LIVING IN IS SEEN AS A PROBLEM BY THE POLICE. SO I THINK WE NEED TO PAY VIGILANT ATTENTION THAT THE POLICING MEASURES DON'T REINFORCE THIS RACIAL DISCRIMINATION AS WELL AS INTIMIDATE IMMIGRANTS WHO MAY HAVE A PRECARIOUS STATUS.

Francisco says STEVE, CAN I SAY?

Steve says PLEASE.

Francisco says THE MAJORITY OF STATUS THAT ARE NON-STATUS OR LOW INCOME, THEY LIVE IN VERY TINY PLACES AND THEY HAVE FAMILIES. AND THE WHOLE TREAT FOR THE HOLIDAYS WAS TO GO TO THE PARK. AND NOW THEY ARE SCARED TO GO TO THE PARK BECAUSE THE POLICE IS THERE AND THE POLICE IS TICKETING AND ASKING FOR IDs AND WHATEVER. SO WHAT ARE THEY DOING? NOTHING. AND THIS IS COMING BACK TO THE TRAUMA THAT THEY HAVE BEEN LIVING BACK HOME AS WELL WHERE THEY WERE NOT ALLOWED TO LEAVE FROM THEIR PLACES OR ANYTHING BECAUSE OF WAR, BECAUSE OF REPRESSION, ANYTHING. SO THIS IS A VERY DIFFICULT SITUATION THAT WE ARE FACING.

Steve says I WOULD ASSUME, THOUGH, THAT THERE'S A MORATORIUM ON DEPORTATIONS RIGHT NOW. I MEAN THE AIRLINES ARE BARELY FLYING AT ALL RIGHT NOW. YOU CAN'T EXACTLY KICK PEOPLE OUT OF THE COUNTRY, FRANCISCO. IS THAT NOT THE CASE?

Francisco says IT IS THE CASE. WE ARE VERY HAPPY THAT THEY HAVE EXTENDED THE MORATORIUM. BUT WHO KNOWS THIS? I MEAN, I KNOW THIS. AND IF SOMEBODY PHONED ME AND I SAID, RELAX, EVERYTHING IS OKAY. NOTHING IS GOING TO HAPPEN. WE HAVE SPACE AND WHATEVER. BUT HOW MANY PEOPLE HAVE THE POSSIBILITY, THE PRIVILEGES TO TALK IN THEIR OWN LANGUAGE TO SOMEONE THAT HAS KNOWLEDGE ABOUT IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEES AND NO DEPORTATIONS AND NO DETENTION. THAT'S A PRIVILEGE ISSUE. AND THE LAWYERS ARE... THE OFFICE OF THE LAWYERS, THEY ARE DEALING WITH THE CLIENTELE AS WELL. SO THE SERVICES FOR PEOPLE THAT ARE MARGINALIZED HAVE REFUSED BECAUSE THE SERVICES... VERY FEW OFFICES THAT WE WERE WORKING WITH NON-STATUS PEOPLE ARE STILL OPEN AND THEY'RE STILL PROVIDING SERVICES EVEN REMOTE AND PHYSICALLY DISTANT, BUT WE ARE PROVIDED SO VERY FEW. SO THEY'RE IN ISOLATION. THAT'S THE PROBLEM.

Rupaleem says AND IF I COULD ADD? I THINK ACCESS TO INFORMATION IS A REALLY IMPORTANT CHALLENGE AND SITUATION FOR ANYBODY. I THINK ANY INFORMATION AROUND THE CERB, FOR EXAMPLE, IS MOSTLY DISSEMINATED IN ENGLISH AND FRENCH, SO MANY GRASS ROOTS AND COMMUNITY BASED ORGANIZATIONS, THEY ARE HAVING THE BURDEN OF TRANSLATING THIS TO THE COMMUNITIES THEY WORK WITH IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES. WHEN IT COMES TO THE THREAT OF DEPORTATION, THIS REALLY INTERSECTS WITH POWER DYNAMICS THAT ARE ALREADY IN PEOPLE'S LIVES. SO ANYONE WHO IS EXPERIENCING FAMILY VIOLENCE, ABUSE FROM THEIR EMPLOYER, IT'S VERY EASY TO BE INTIMIDATED IF THEIR EMPLOYER OR FAMILY MEMBER WHO IS ABUSING THEM IS THREATENING THEM WITH DEPORTATION. EVEN IF THEY HEAR ABOUT IT OR THEY HAPPEN TO READ THE NEWS, CBSA, THE CANADA BORDER SERVICE AGENCY, THEY HAVE NOT PUBLICLY ANNOUNCED THAT THEY ARE NOT DETAINING AND DEPORTING PEOPLE, NOT IN A KIND OF DEADLINE SITUATION WHERE THEY'LL GIVE US A DATE. THEY HAVEN'T GIVEN THAT KIND OF ASSURANCE. BUT CERTAINLY WITHIN FAMILIES WHERE PEOPLE ARE ALREADY BEING ABUSED, AND THERE IS A LOT OF EMPLOYER ABUSE, WE SEE THIS IN THE CARE-GIVER PROGRAM AS WELL, THIS INFORMATION, THE LACK OF ACCESS TO THIS INFORMATION, CAN BE USED AS A POWERFUL TACTIC TO COMMIT ABUSE.

Steve says RUPALEEM, CAN I GET YOU TO FOLLOW UP ON THE ISSUE OF GENDER. WELL, I DON'T KNOW, SO I'M GOING TO ASK. WOULD NON-STATUS WOMEN FACE A DISPROPORTIONATE WOMEN TO NON-STATUS MEN RIGHT NOW?

Rupaleem says I MEAN, I THINK THAT ANY TIME WE HAVE GENDER INEQUALITY, THESE ARE GOING TO BE KIND OF MAGNIFIED IN A CRISIS LIKE THIS. BECAUSE THE PATTERNS OF IMMIGRATION KIND OF HOOK INTO EXISTING GENDER INEQUALITY, WHAT WE SEE IS MORE IMMIGRANT WOMEN COME INTO CANADA WITH A PRECARIOUS STATUS. THEY ARE DEPENDENT ON A SPOUSE OR AN EMPLOYER. AND THAT MAKES THEM VULNERABLE TO LOSING THEIR STATUS OR BEING UNDER THE CONTROL OF THAT SPONSOR, WHETHER IT'S AN EMPLOYER SPONSOR OR THEIR FAMILY MEMBER. WE ALSO SEE THE CHALLENGES OF FAMILY MEMBERS, WOMEN WHO ARE CARE-GIVING FOR THEIR CHILDREN HERE OR THEY'RE SEPARATED FROM THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS. SO MANY WOMEN WITH PRECARIOUS STATUS ENTER CANADA, THEY HAVE TO LEAVE THEIR CHILDREN BEHIND BECAUSE ENTERING AS A FAMILY, SO PEOPLE WHO ARE ENTERING INTO JOBS THAT HAVE LOWER PAY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BRING THEIR FAMILY MEMBERS. SO THESE ARE KIND OF MULTIPLE WAYS THAT IT IS VERY GENDERED [indiscernible]... TO LEAVE AN ABUSIVE SITUATION ARE VERY HARD. I KNOW YOU HAD AN EARLIER PROGRAM TALKING ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND WE HAVE SEEN AROUND THE WORLD IT HAS ONLY INCREASED FOR WOMEN AND CHILDREN, PARTICULARLY WHEN THEY'RE FORCED TO STAY AT HOME WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE ABUSING THEM. IF PEOPLE ARE AFRAID TO GO TO THE POLICE, AND THEY DON'T HAVE ACCESS TO A SHELTER OR CAN'T AFFORD TO OR ARE UNABLE TO WORK, HOW CAN THEY SEEK OUT A SITUATION OF FINDING SAFETY? SO THESE ARE MANY WAYS THAT WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT EVERYONE HAS AN OPTION TO CALL THE POLICE WITHOUT FEAR OF THAT INFORMATION BEING SHARED WITH IMMIGRATION, SO NOT SHARING INFORMATION WITH IMMIGRATION AUTHORITIES, TO MAKE SURE PEOPLE CAN ACCESS HEALTH CARE SIMILARLY WITHOUT FEARING THAT HEALTH CARE INFORMATION WILL BE SHARED WITH IMMIGRATION AUTHORITIES, AND PROVIDING EMERGENCY HOUSING AND SHELTER FOR ANYONE LEAVING AN ABUSIVE SITUATION.

Steve says OKAY. YOU TWO HAVE DONE A GOOD JOB... EXCUSE ME, FRANCISCO, WE'RE DOWN TO OUR LAST FEW MINUTES HERE AND I WANT TO MAKE SURE WE SPARE TIME BECAUSE YOU TWO HAVE LAID OUT THE ISSUES VERY CLEARLY AND VERY WELL. ON THE CHANCE THAT THERE ARE PEOPLE WATCHING THIS RIGHT NOW WHO MAY BE IN A POSITION TO ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS, FRANCISCO, START US OFF. GIVE THE POLICY ADVICE TO PEOPLE ON WHAT OUGHT TO HAPPEN GOING FORWARD.

Francisco says THREE AREAS. ONE IS ONTARIO WORKS FOR ALL. THAT'S A POSITION THAT THE PROVINCE CAN DO. ANYBODY NEEDS TO HAVE ACCESS TO BASIC INCOME. AND ONTARIO WORKS IS THE PLACE TO DO IT, THROUGH TRANSFERS FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. THE OTHER ONE IS THE ONTARIO PROVINCE SAID THAT ANYBODY HAS ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE. YOU KNOW, IN THIS PARTICULAR PANDEMIC, REGARDLESS OF IMMIGRATION STATUS, REGARDLESS OF THEIR MEDICAL CONDITION. PLEASE KEEP IT. BECAUSE THIS IS A SOCIAL HEALTH ISSUE AND WE HAVE TO NOT LEAVE ANYBODY BEHIND. AND THE OTHER THING THAT WE CAN FOCUS IS, EDUCATION. YOUTH HAVE BEEN LEFT OUT OF THIS, AND THEY ARE BORED AND TOTALLY WASTE THEIR FUTURE. OPEN UP THE EDUCATION AND MAKE IT ACCESSIBLE TO ANYBODY, NON-STATUS OR REGARDLESS OF IMMIGRATION STATUS, AND THIS IS GOING TO BE BETTER WHEN WE LEAVE OUT OF COVID-19.

Steve says LET ME PICK UP ON THE LAST ONE. SURELY THAT CAN'T BE TOUGH TO DO. NOBODY IS IN CLASS ANYMORE. ALL YOU NEED IS, WHATEVER IT IS, THE PIN NUMBER OR WHATEVER TO ACCESS ONLINE COURSES. SURELY THAT IS AN EASY ONE, ISN'T IT?

Rupaleem says IF YOU HAVE THE COMPUTER AND INTERNET ACCESS AND ARE SAFE IN YOUR HOME...

Francisco says I'M TALKING ABOUT POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION AS WELL. YOU KNOW, UNIVERSITY HAS TO OPEN UP TO OUR YOUTH AND DON'T HAVE STATUS AND DON'T HAVE A WAY TO OBTAIN A STUDENT PERMIT. SO WHY? BECAUSE THERE IS A PRESSING ISSUE IN SOCIETY FOR THIS.

Steve says RUPALEEM, WHAT WOULD YOU ADD TO THAT LIST?

Rupaleem says ABSOLUTELY. I THINK BUILDING ON FRANCISCO. I THINK THIS IS ACTUALLY AN OPPORTUNITY. IT'S SO UNIQUE FOR US TO HAVE A MOMENT WHERE WE REALLY ARE UNDERSTANDING HOW INTERTWINED OUR LIVES ARE AND TO OPEN OUR EYES TO THE INEQUALITIES THAT WE'VE BEEN TOLERATING, AND I THINK CREATING A BETTER SOCIETY IS REALLY AN OPPORTUNITY FOR US RIGHT NOW, AND I THINK, AS FRANCISCO WAS SAYING, RELAXING THE RESTRICTIONS ON ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE ARE JUST PARAMOUNT. WE NEED TO MAKE SURE THAT THESE ENDURE. THE WAIVING OF THE THREE-MONTH TIME PERIOD TO ACCESS OHIP, FOR EXAMPLE; PROVIDING EMERGENCY HEALTH CARE TO EVERYONE LIVING IN THE PROVINCE. THESE THINGS, THERE'S NO REASON WHY THESE THINGS SHOULD GO AWAY, AS THE THREAT OF THE PANDEMIC MINIMIZES. I THINK I'M WORRIED ABOUT THE KIND OF SLOW OPENING UP, ALTHOUGH I THINK THERE ARE SOME ECONOMIC REASONS WHY, THE SYSTEM NEEDS TO GET BACK IN SHAPE. I'M WORRIED ABOUT THOSE WORKERS THAT DON'T HAVE ADEQUATE LABOUR PROTECTIONS. YOU NEED STRONG OVERSIGHT. ESPECIALLY WORKERS WORKING IN HOMES, LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES, WORKERS THAT HAVE PRECARIOUS WORKING STATUS, MAKING SURE THEY HAVE BASIC ACCESS. THE GOVERNMENTS SHOULD BE WORKING WITH THESE GRASS ROOTS GROUPS WITH MIGRANT WORKERS, MAKING SURE WORKERS, ESPECIALLY NON-STATUS OR TEMPORARY WORKERS HAVE ACCESS TO FINANCIAL SUPPORT, AND ALSO ENSURING THAT WE HAVE THE ADEQUATE HOUSING AND HEALTH CARE SUPPORTS AS WELL. I THINK THIS IS A TIME WHERE WE HAVE THE POLITICAL WILL TO CHANGE THINGS FOR THE GOOD, NOT JUST IN THIS EMERGENCY, BUT FOR OUR FUTURE AS WELL.

The caption changes to "Producer: Preeti Bhuyan, @preetibhuyan."

Steve says RUPALEEM BHUYAN, CAN I TELL YOU IT WAS GREAT TO MEET YOU FOR THE FIRST TIME HERE. SO THANK YOU FOR JOINING US ON TVO TONIGHT. AND FRANCISCO RICO-MARTINEZ, YOU REMINDED ME BEFORE WE STARTED THAT THE VERY FIRST INTERVIEW YOU DID WHEN YOU FIRST CAME TO CANADA NEARLY 30 YEARS AGO WAS WITH THIS KID WHO IS HANGING OUT IN HIS ATTIC ALL THE TIME THESE DAYS AND IT'S SO GOOD TO SEE YOU AGAIN, MY FRIEND.

Francisco says THANK YOU, STEVE. IT'S ALWAYS NICE TO BE WITH YOU.

Steve says THANK YOU SO MUCH. AS IT IS WITH YOU. TAKE CARE, BOTH OF YOU, AND BE SAFE.

Rupaleem says THANK YOU. BYE-BYE.

Francisco says HAVE A GOOD DAY.

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