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Movement seeking status for asylum seekers in essential jobs say August will be pivotal

Last Updated Aug 1, 2020 at 11:32 am PDT

A woman takes part in a sit-in protest outside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's constituency office in Montreal, Saturday, August 1, 2020, where protesters called on the government to give residency status to all migrant workers and asylum seekers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL — A group seeking status for asylum seekers who were employed as essential workers during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic says August will be a pivotal month.

As they completed an overnight sit-in today in front of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office, they are concerned the federal and provincial governments haven’t followed up on their promises.

In late May, Quebec Premier Francois Legault asked his then immigration minister to look at the files of health-care workers and see if it would be possible to qualify as immigrants instead of refugees.

Days later, Trudeau also said the federal government was working to recognize those asylum seekers who were deployed to COVID-19 front lines.

But those promises still haven’t materialized and a member of the group says he’s concerned a new cohort of orderlies set to begin working in mid-September will overshadow the contributions of those asylum seekers who responded at the height of the COVID-19 crisis.

Wilner Cayo says government priorities can change quickly and the organization intends to step up its efforts to hold the governments to account.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 1, 2020.

The Canadian Press