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More than 150 migrant construction workers claim new immigration program discriminatory

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Juvenal Cabral, a custom carpenter with 22 years of experience, came here from Portugal on a work permit in 2008. Immigration officials did not consider his permanent residency application because he failed the English test twice. "Why are we good enough to work but not good enough to stay?"

NICHOLAS KEUNG / TORONTO STAR

Juvenal Cabral, a custom carpenter with 22 years of experience, came here from Portugal on a work permit in 2008. Immigration officials did not consider his permanent residency application because he failed the English test twice. “Why are we good enough to work but not good enough to stay?”

By:  Immigration reporter, Published on Thu Apr 30 2015

Ottawa has suffered a setback in its attempt to strike down a lawsuit that claims its new immigration program targeting skilled trades workers discriminates against people from non-English speaking countries.

This week, the Federal Court of Canada dismissed a motion by the federal government to crush the claims by more than 150 migrant construction workers alleging that the Federal Skilled Trades Program welcomes only English-speaking candidates when it comes to letting them stay on permanently.

The ruling opens the door for the class action lawsuit to proceed in court.

“The defendants’ complaint, in my view, is a complaint that the plaintiffs’ pleading has ‘no basis in fact’ or is lacking an evidentiary foundation,” wrote Justice Russel W. Zinn in his decision.

“However, that will depend on the evidence gathered and whether or not it supports the material facts pled.”

The workers from Italy, Portugal and Poland have been employed in Canada on work permits for at lseast two years. But under the program introduced in 2013, they must pass a language proficiency test to qualify for permanent resident status.

The claimants said their applications were returned to them and never considered by immigration officials because they failed the mandatory language test and no test results were submitted with the applications.

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