Toronto [Canada], June 13 (ANI): The asylum seekers in Canada have taken up the duty to help the government in combating the coronavirus.
"I thought, 'You have to give your best and make people's lives better,' " The Washington Post quoted Gaelle Ledan, a 36-year-old asylum seeker and a physician in her native Haiti, as saying.
She said that she never thought about quitting her job as a nursing assistant at the seniors' home in Montreal, where she has worked for two years.
"I was there for better or for worse," she added.
Ledan is one of the hundreds of asylum seekers who are working for $10 per hour in "essential" jobs which few Canadians want.
Despite their dedication, they are risking their lives for the well- being of Canadians, but immigration critics remain firm in their stance that they would be given legal status only after a proper procedure.
Recently, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau considered ways to recognise the commendable contributions being made by the asylum seekers by regularising their legal status.
"Our immigration system is anchored in respect for processes and fairness and equality for everyone," Trudeau said last month. "It's important to follow these processes, but in an exceptional situation one can evidently consider some exceptions."
However, Trudeau's comments attracted a lot of criticisms. Advocacy groups held demonstrations outside his constituency office in Montreal.
"It's admirable that they took these jobs before the COVID crisis, and it's admirable that they have, in most cases, stayed in these positions to care for the most vulnerable," Peter Kent, immigration critic for the federal Conservative Party, was quoted as saying.
"But we don't believe that that should be a shortcut to Canadian permanent residency. ... It would be, I believe, an unacceptable precedent," he added.
Meanwhile, there have been several voices demanding regularisation the legal status of these asylum seekers. The maximum demands have been coming from Quebec, the centre of Canada's coronavirus outbreak. Here, more than 80 per cent of deaths have been linked to long-term-care homes or private seniors' residences, and more than 1,000 soldiers have been deployed to fill chronic staffing shortages in those facilities.
"It's not a loss, but a win for them," Ledan said while adding "We are loyal people and we are ready to continue to work for a better Quebec and for a better Canada."
One of the asylum seekers from Nigeria said that she worked 17-hour shifts at a private seniors' residence in Montreal after some co-workers stopped showing up. She was tested positive for the coronavirus in April.
Elisabeth Gosselin-Bienvenue, a spokeswoman for Minister of Immigration Jolin-Barrette, said the department was analyzing the applications and talking with the federal government.
"This is an exceptional situation aimed at recognizing the contribution of these people during the unprecedented crisis we are going through," she said.
Frantz Andre, a spokesman for the Action Committee for People Without Status, said, "When they came, they were considered the zero of this world," he said. "Now they are heroes." (ANI)