UFCW Canada

UFCW Canada

June 18, 2010 18:00 ET

Freedom of speech for Mexican delegation stops at Canada's border

Appearance of Mexican labour leaders at Canadian public forum derailed by Canadian embassy in Mexico

Attention: Agriculture Editor, Assignment Editor, City Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO--(Marketwire - June 18, 2010) -

Senior leaders of Mexico's two largest farm workers organizations have been blocked from coming to Canada after Canadian officials in Mexico delayed their visas. The two labour leaders were scheduled to participate as keynote speakers at a June 20 Toronto public forum on the issues facing migrant workers - including the more than 17,000 Mexican migrant workers who work on Canadian farms each season under the federal government's Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP).

The visa issue arose after 300 Mexican migrant workers protested outside Canada's embassy in Mexico City about labour and safety rights violations they experienced in Canada under SAWP.

"When a greenhouse wants to bring 100 Mexican migrant workers under SAWP, there are no visa problems," says Wayne Hanley, the national president of UFCW Canada. "So why are two visas for respected Mexican labour leaders attending a conference about migrant workers a problem?"

"The problem is the truth. Canada and the farm lobby don't want Canadians to know how badly exploited migrant workers are. Migrant workers in Canada look to our federal government for protection and get nothing except repatriated if they raise concerns," said the UFCW Canada leader. "And when it comes to their advocates in Mexico, they just learned that freedom of speech in Canada stops at the border if you want to get a visa."

UFCW Canada is Canada's largest private sector union, and in partnership with the Agriculture Workers Association operates 10 farm worker support centres across Canada that provide services to thousands of migrant agriculture workers each season. UFCW Canada, along with community partners, is also the organizer of the Toronto June 20 migrant workers forum (see: www.ufcw.ca/norightsnorules).

/For further information: www.ufcw.ca

Contact Information

  • Andrea Galvez, National Representative, UFCW Canada
    Primary Phone: 514-917-6100
    E-mail: andrea.galvez@ufcw.ca