Fredericton – Migrant workers were excluded from the new vaccination roll-out plan the Government of New Brunswick released on Friday, March 12, 2021–but this is not the first time migrant workers were discriminated against by the government’s COVID-19 plans. On April 28, 2020, the Government pushed to ban migrant workers from entering the province while other essential workers were free to enter.
The three-stage provincial vaccination roll-out plan starting in March and ending in June outlines the groups of people eligible for vaccines within each stage. Although the Government of Canada’s vaccine schedule recommends inclusion of migrant workers for vaccination at stage two, New Brunswick has decided to exclude them.
“The Government’s decision to exclude migrant workers from the vaccination schedule will put these workers’ lives at risk,” says Tia Dafnos, a professor and member of No One Is Illegal-Fredericton.
No One Is Illegal-Fredericton is joined by the province’s largest union – CUPE NB – as well as several community members in calling for the Government of New Brunswick to include migrant workers in the second stage of their vaccine roll-out plan.
“We need to ensure that no person is left unprotected from COVID-19. Migrant workers need the same protections from COVID-19 as all other New Brunswickers. This is especially true for migrant workers living in shared accommodations,” says the open letter.
Other signatories include Unifor, community groups such as Common Front for Social Justice, Grassroots NB, Fédération des étudiantes et étudiants de Campus universitaire de Moncton, as well as L’Hirondelle Farm, Atlantic Certified Organic Cooperative, Black Lives Matter-Fredericton, and Reproductive Justice NB, among others.
“All workers with a high risk profile should be treated equally regardless of immigration status,” said Jael Duarte, Immigration Lawyer and member of No One is Illegal-Fredericton. “Relying solely on isolation instead of giving all migrant workers the vaccine shows a willingness to put their lives at risk.”
NOII-F argues the vaccine should be made available to all, and there should be no immigration consequences for those seeking to access the vaccine.
The wellbeing and safety of migrant workers is in the hands of the Government of New Brunswick.
A national statement in support of vaccines for all has been signed by over 250 organizations.
Aditya Rao is an organizer with No One Is Illegal-Fredericton. No One Is Illegal-Fredericton (NOII), is a Fredericton based organization part of a larger migrant justice movement around the world. Members of NOII advocate for anti-colonial and anti-capitalist politics as well as for the right for people to move, to remain in, and to return.