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Startseite Urgent Actions 2021 11 Stop deportation of healthcare worker
UA 115/21
Abgeschlossen am 19. November 2021

Stop deportation of healthcare worker

AI-Index: AMR 20/4991/2021

Mamadou Konaté, an immigrant worker from Ivory Coast who has lived in Canada for six years, is at imminent risk of deportation, which has been scheduled for 19 November. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he worked in facilities accompanying vulnerable seniors. He contracted COVID-19 in the workplace. In 2020, the federal and Quebec governments launched programs to give permanent residency to refugee claimants who worked in healthcare services during COVID-19. The programmes are discriminatory against certain healthcare worker roles such as janitorial positions, like Mamadou Konaté. Instead of deporting him, the government should ensure its programmes to regularise health workers during COVID-19 fulfil its obligations towards all immigrant essential workers without discrimination.


Mamadou Konaté is an immigrant worker from the Ivory Coast. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, he worked in residential and long-term care facilities accompanying vulnerable seniors through months of fear and distress, playing a crucial role in Canada's collective effort against the virus. However, barely a year and a half later, this fate is uncertain, while the prospect of an imminent expulsion hangs over him, even though he holds a temporary work permit valid until 2022. Mamadou Konaté has expressed that he has a fear of returning to Ivory Coast because there are no secure conditions for him to return to a country he fled in 2016 following threats to his life. Mamadou Konaté has told Amnesty International that having suffered the consequences of the war (physical abuse, post-traumatic syndromes, uprooting) he no longer feels safe going back to his country.

In December 2020, the federal and Quebec governments launched special programs to regularize the status and pave the way to permanent residency for refugee claimants who provided services in health care services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The stated purpose of these programs is to recognize the contribution of a large number of essential migrant workers during the pandemic. However, in reality, the programs only target asylum seekers who worked in certain health care positions, during specific hours and weeks, and only during the first wave of the pandemic. The narrow eligibility criteria of these programs means that people like Mamadou Konaté, who worked in janitorial tasks, did not have access to regularization.

Cleaners in healthcare facilities have occupied a particularly vulnerable situation in the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines on rationing personal protective equipment (PPE) outline that cleaners and housekeepers indeed should have more PPE than many other hospital staff members, including doctors and nurses who do not have direct contact with COVID-19 patients. For example, cleaners entering the rooms of COVID-19 patients should have a medical mask, a protective gown, heavy duty gloves, eye protection, and boots. Nevertheless, cleaners and housekeepers consistently have been among the most unprotected workers in health settings.

The Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship has the authority to grant status to Mamadou Konaté under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

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