Presentation: Non-Status Women and COVID-19 in 2021

**view a copy of the slides from our 2021 webinar**

Due to the success of our first webinar in July 2020, join us for this 1-hour
follow up presentation hosted by the Rights of Non-Status Women Network
in partnership with the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic.

Attend this webinar to:
▪ Learn about recent 2021 legal and non-legal changes that could
disproportionately affect non-status women during the continuing
COVID-19 pandemic
▪ Discover and share resources available and how to access them
▪ Connect with the Rights of Non-Status Women Network to collectively
advocate for change

Date: Friday, July 30, 2021
Time: 11 a.m. EST
Duration: 1 hour
Cost: Free

Missed the webinar or want a copy of the slides? You can view the PowerPoint below. Please note that the information contained in these slides is for informative purposes only and is not legal advice.

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Joint Statement of Solidarity


Joint Statement from the Rights of Non-status Women Network (RNSWN) and the International Human Rights Program (IHRP) at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law

We stand in solidarity with the family of George Floyd, murdered by the police in Minneapolis.

Racism and police brutality must be eradicated everywhere, and Canada is not immune.

JUNE 2, 2020

Law enforcement’s disregard for human rights and human life is blatant and part of a long legacy of colonial and racialized violence at the hands of police across Turtle Island (North America). White Supremacy and Anti-Black racism claimed another victim on May 25, 2020, when George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis in cold blood while begging for air. We stand united with all those who are battling racism and resisting police oppression in all its forms across Turtle Island and around the Globe. Justice must be done. The process for accountability needs to be transparent.

The government response to police violence and community uprisings so far has been cowardly, governed by principles of white privilege and concern for property over Black lives, further fueling public anger, state violence, and perpetuating prejudice and hatred. Charges for officer Derek Chauvin arrested for the death of George Floyd must be upgraded. All other officers responsible must be arrested and charged swiftly given their complicity. The police and those giving them orders must stop the violence and retreat. They must stop protecting and reinforcing racism.

Despite constitutional protection, Canada is also not immune from this abhorrent culture of racist police violence and impunity, stemming from a history of enslavement, and engrained and perpetuated colonialism. Just last week, in the High Park area of Toronto, a mother lost a daughter when Regis Korchiniski-Paquet fell to her death from a balcony, following a suspicious police intervention. The family rightly believes that had police not intervened, Regis would still be alive. Between 2000 and 2017, 699 police officers were involved in fatal interactions with the public. The vast majority of officers faced no charges. 49 incidents are still under investigation, and only 11 resulted in the laying of manslaughter charges according to data provided by the CBC. Out of the 460 fatal incidents, only three murder charges were laid against police officers, and all were second-degree.[1]

In Canada, victims of police killing, violence and harassment are primarily Black, Indigenous and other racialized people. This violence is intentional and systemic.[2]  Paramilitary actions and surveillance that terrorize such communities must cease.[3] Some racialized persons might also have no immigration status and end up killed or detained for prolonged periods in jails without having committed any criminal acts.[4] When mental health struggles are present, the individual becomes even more vulnerable.

We at the Rights of Non-Status Women Network and the International Human Rights Program demand transparency and accountability in all cases of injury or death involving police. Specifically, we insist that all officers involved in the killing of George Floyd must be arrested and charged; that the death of Regis Korchiniski-Paquet be adequately and transparently investigated; that police stop repressing protesters standing in solidarity against racist practices; that police stop arresting reporters who are covering the protests; and that proper and substantial funding be allocated to fight racism and provide real, equal opportunity to Black, Indigenous and other racialized groups. We also remain committed to addressing our own complicity in reproducing systemic and interpersonal forms of racism and will continue to hold ourselves and each other accountable for transforming racial inequality at all levels.

We extend our most heartfelt sympathy to the families of Regis Korchiniski-Paquet, George Floyd, Ahmaud Abrey, D’Andre Campbell, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and to too many others that have lost their lives due to police brutality, and for the unjustified and intolerable pain they were made to suffer.

In Solidarity.

Rights of Non-status Women Network 

Contact: rightsofnonstatuswomen @


International Human Rights Program, University of Toronto Faculty of Law

Contact: @ 


Endorsed by Rights of Non-Status Women Network members:

Assaulted Women’s and Children’s Counsellor/Advocate Program, George Brown College (AWCCA)

Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic

Collaborative Network to End Exploitation (CNEE)

FCJ Refugee Centre

Jane Finch Action Against Poverty (JFFAP) 

Newcomer Students’ Association of Ryerson (NSAR)

Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI)

South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario (SALCO)

The Sanctuary Students Solidarity & Support Collective





Articles and Other Readings:

For additional resources you can check out this curated list here.

Places to Donate:


[2] R v Le, 2019 SCC 34 at paras 69-123 (Supreme Court of Canada).

[3] On May 29, 2020, the large community complex at Jane and Sheppard (2000 Sheppard Ave. West) was terrorized by a massive police raid involving the use of SWAT with battering rams, automatic weapons, sniper rifles and many police personnel. Hundreds of families with children in these apartments and townhomes were scared and traumatized. See statement by Jane Finch Action Against Poverty at

[4] Canada (Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness) v. Chhina, 2019 SCC 29, available at;

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Rights of Non-Status Women Network: Statement on COVID-19

Download a shareable version of this statement with visuals by Azza Abbaro.

The Rights of Non-Status Women Network (RNSWN) is an organized, grassroots collective of service providers, scholars, and individual community members in Toronto, Ontario. Our mandate is to address barriers to services and resources faced by non-status women through coordinated public education, knowledge exchange, and advocacy for the purpose of systemic change. We believe that all people—whether they are migrants or not and whether they have status or not—deserve to have their essential needs met and their human rights upheld so that they can live safe and dignified lives. 

During this global COVID 19 pandemic, non-status women may be among the most exposed and the least protected. Non-status women prop up the essential service sector with their unrecognized, underpaid and often dangerous, cleaning, food production and care work; and most do not have the option of working from home. While these jobs put non-status women among those who are protecting and caring for the rest of us, they do so with great precarity, as labour rights, decent working conditions and minimum pay are often not respected. Furthermore, despite their efforts, non-status women who lose their jobs, or have to give them up to care for their children while schools are closed, may not be eligible for any of the government-issued financial supports. 

As we focus on social isolation and self-quarantining, it is essential to recognize that the home can be a very unsafe place for non-status women. It is now well recognized that this crisis, as with any crisis, has increased incidents of gender-based violence. Non-status women facing violence in their homes often have fewer options for protection, as they may fear that calling the police or asking for help could put their ability to remain in Canada at risk. Non-status women experiencing abuse have limited access to information, counseling, health services and other social services, though there are agencies and shelters providing support. 

The over policing of our communities to enforce physical distancing will have particularly negative impacts on people of colour. This includes additional powers that have been given to provincial offenses officers (including certain municipal bylaw officers, campus officers, TTC and other transportation constables, community housing constables, public health officers, and others) and the City of Toronto’s online system for reporting non-compliance. For non-status women, who are often racialized, surveillance by law enforcement can significantly increase stress and trauma, especially as many continue to work in informal sectors.

While isolation and separation from family and friends has been very difficult for everyone during this pandemic, this may give us pause to reflect on the similar situation faced by thousands of women every day because of their immigration status. Non-status women are often excluded and isolated in many different ways, as they fear people finding out about their situations. They may also be separated from their families for many years, as cross-border visits are not possible. 

If we are truly “all in this together,” we must not leave non-status women behind. The Rights of Non-Status Women’s Network calls on municipal, provincial and federal authorities to: 

  • Make the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) available to all, regardless of immigration status. At the present time, the reliance on a SIN to distribute benefits excludes non-status workers and either obliges them to put themselves at even more risk through non-compliance with social isolation directives and unsafe work, or potentially leaves them destitute. 
  • Make social assistance accessible for those who may not qualify for the CERB during this time of crisis. This access should be free of any immigration consequences. While social assistance in Ontario is accessible to some people without status, including H&C applicants and those who have an enforceable removal order but cannot leave the country for reasons beyond their control, this does not include all non-status women. The lack of access to social assistance leaves non-status women without the most basic resources or supports to protect themselves and their families.
  • Make the child benefit available to everyone by amending s. 122.6(e) of the Income Tax that ties eligibility for the Canada Child Benefit to the immigration status of the applicant parent. Deep social, health and economic inequities and high rates of poverty existed prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Rather than this virus being any sort of equalizer, it is amplifying these inequities multifold and children are paying the highest price. 
  • Ensure that policing measures do not put non-status women more at risk. Moreover, if non-status women do seek protection from gender-based violence, there must be absolutely no immigration enforcement actions. This would require police authorities to enforce strict access without fear policies. Extended powers of monitoring and enforcement such as the City of Toronto online system for reporting non-compliance should be terminated, and all provincial offenses officers must refrain from collecting any information related to immigration status.  
  • While there is currently a moratorium on evictions in Toronto, there must be no reprisals from landlords once the moratorium is lifted. Non-status women, in particular, may be susceptible to this violence, as they may be forced to leave their accommodation under the threat of being reported to immigration officials.   
  • Since physical distancing cannot be maintained within immigration detention, everyone currently detained must be released for their safety, as well as for the safety and health of others. Moreover, since the same is true of the shelter system, alternative accommodation must be provided that enables physical distancing and self-isolation.

This is an opportunity for the federal government to address all of these gaps holistically by implementing a broad regularization program to finally truly include our family, friends, neighbours and those who have been taking care of us in Canadian society.

Download a shareable version of this statement with visuals by Azza Abbaro.

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PRESENTATION: Non-Status Women and COVID-19

**A warm thanks to those who were able to join us for today’s presentation** You can view a copy of our presentation slides here: Presentation PDF


Join us for this virtual presentation hosted by the Rights of Non-Status Women Network in partnership with the Barbra Schlifer Commemorative Clinic.

Attend this presentation to:

  • Learn about legal changes that could disproportionately affect non-status women during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Discover and share resources available and how to access them
  • Connect with the Rights of Non-Status Women Network to collectively advocate for change

Date: Friday, July 31, 2020

Time: 11 a.m. EST

Duration: 1.5 hours

Cost: Free

How to register:


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

*Read our RNSWN statement on Non-Status Women and COVID-19

*Access the Schlifer Clinic’s resources list for non-status women under COVID-19 (PDF)

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New Research on Access to Healthcare

The network is pleased to share recent research conducted by Shelby Martin at the University of Toronto. The research report titled “Creating a Culture of Care: Navigating the Politics of Life and Death in the Clinical Setting” also includes a resource on where to find care if you need it.

Read the report here: Martin 2020 – Creating a Culture of Care

View the resource here: Martin 2020 – Resource – Where you can go if you need care

Statement from Shelby: “I would like you to know that this paper was critically inspired by the work that the RNSWN does, and by all of the incredible people who participate in the network. The thoughtful discussions that we have had provided inspiration and perspective which greatly informed my work and approach.
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New Research on Toronto Police Services

The Rights of Non-Status Women Network is pleased to share research produced by Melanie Da Costa on Toronto Police Services.

Read this research by clicking here (PDF)

The research was conducted as part of Melanie’s community placement with our Network through the University of Toronto’s Ethics, Society & Law program at Trinity College.

Melanie Da Costa, University of Toronto

Researcher Melanie Da Costa

We commend Melanie on this research and thank her for her contributions!

We also wanted to take this moment to thank all of the students who have contributed to our network over the years, along with the network members and educators who have supervised and supported their work.

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Stop the Cuts to Public Services in Ontario

The Rights of Non-Status Women Network (RNSWN) firmly opposes the cuts to, and lack of funding for, public services in Ontario as proposed in the 2019 provincial budget (Bill 100). Since the budget has not yet passed second reading, the time to act is now. Here are two ways that you can get involved.

1) Send copies of our Open letter, which opposes the cuts and calling for immediate consultation and changes to the bill, to your MPP, the Attorney General, the Premier, and any other elected officials you think need to know about this. You can also fill out the Cover letter template or write your own letter, so your elected official can better understand who you are and why you’re sharing the open letter.

2) Sign the petition. Your endorsement will be added to the open letter.

If you have any questions or want to get involved further with RNSWN, please email us at




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New Research on Sanctuary City Toronto

Check out our latest research report on the experiences of Non-Status Persons accessing City of Toronto Services.

Read a Summary of the Report

Read the Full Report

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Spring Forum: Sanctuary Cities and the Future of Regularization

Wednesday, May 24, 2017 from 9:30 to 4:00 p.m. at University of Toronto

Please join us for our spring forum, a biannual networking and information sharing event. The forum’s morning panel will present individuals’ and front line workers’ struggles and strategies to gain access to City of Toronto services for people without immigration status. The afternoon panel will discuss a variety of approaches and strategies on status regularization for people with no legal immigration status. We welcome your questions for all our panellists in open Q&A sessions at the end of each panel and invite you to network over a delicious lunch break.

Register On-line:

9:30 to 10:00 Registration and Networking

10:00 to 12:30 Panel on Sanctuary City Toronto with speakers from Research Institutions, City Officials, and Social Service Organizations

12:30 to 1:30 Lunch & Networking

1:30 to 3:30 Panel on The Future of Regularization with speakers from Refugee, Legal, and Grassroots Advocates

3:30 to 4:00 Wrap Up and Discussion

Suggested Donation (for operational costs) to be paid in cash at the door. A receipt can be provided.

• Non-Students: $5-10

• Students are free. Please bring your student I.D.

Please RSVP by Friday May 19th as spaces are limited ~ Thank You!

Thank you to Migrant Mothers Project, South Asian Legal Clinic of Ontario, FCJ, and Springtide Resources who have generously supported this symposium.

~ Space is fully wheelchair accessible. Please let us know of any accessibility needs in advance so that we can do our best to accommodate them.

*The event will be held at the University of Toronto and the closest subway station is St George*

Please bring materials from your agency to display on our resource table

Use the hashtag #nonstatusTO to live-tweet and follow the discussion on twitter!

Register On-line:

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Join us! Forum on Detention & Deportation: Strategies for Frontline Workers

Detention and Deportation: Strategies for Frontline Workers

Detention and Deportation: Strategies for Frontline Workers

Full details and to RSVP:

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