Migrant Worker Project

Providing legal services, facing Canada's shame

In the summer of 2007 [email protected] launched the Migrant Worker project. Throughout the summer and fall of 2007 [email protected] provided weekly drop in sessions at the UFCW Migrant Worker Support Centre in Bradford in order to assist migrant workers with their legal issues.

Outreach and legal services to migrant workers is key to ensuring access to justice to the most vulnerable in our communities.

Migrant farm workers are employed at farms in Ontario in a way that would be illegal if applied to Canadian workers. They are excluded from much of the Employment Standards Act protections, have inadequate access to health care both in Canada and in their countries of origin - are often exposed to pesticides without satisfactory protection nor treatment upon the development of health problems.

These workers can be arbitrarily repatriated and subsequently excluded from the returning to Canada to work as part of SAWP (the Seasonal Agricultural Worker program) thereafter. These injustices are compounded by the circumstances in which they work: migrant workers often face language barriers; live on the farms and rely on their employer for: transportation, accommodation, and continued work in the program - consequently when abuses are happening workers are afraid to say anything for fear of being repatriated and/or excluded from the program in future years.

The SAWP program is a national shame in that in reality is allowing a form of cheap and easily exploitable labour to occur without adequate protections for workers. This is why we have become involved with workers in the Bradford - Holland Marsh area.

Downloads and links

[email protected] presentation to SPINLAW Conference March 15, 2008

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