UFCW Canada

UFCW Canada

August 07, 2005 06:00 ET


Niagara area migrant farm workers celebrate opening of Virgil Support Centre this Sunday, August at 2:30 p.m. Attention: Agriculture Editor, City Editor, Food/Beverage Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor VIRGIL, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 7, 2005) - The Niagara Region Migrant Agricultural Worker Support Centre will officially re-open this Sunday, August 7th in Virgil, Ontario with a ribbon cutting ceremony, media briefing, hospitality reception, and musical entertainment.

This community-based centre which launched a year ago provides services to more than 4,0000 seasonal migrant workers who come to the Niagara region every year (mainly from Mexico) to plant and harvest crops ranging from vegetables to flowers to tender fruit and grapes.

The migrant workers come to Canada under a federal program that contracts workers to specific area farms, but leaves the workers with no social, or legal support; and no protection from retaliation for reporting an abusive employer.

UFCW Canada has filled this justice gap for over a decade, at its own expense, by providing health and safety training, translation assistance, ESL classes, legal assistance (compensation, insurance, etc.), and recreational activities. UFCW Canada has also fought a decade-long public and legal campaign to gain farm workers decent, safe working conditions and workplace rights.

UFCW Canada is one of Canada's largest private sector unions. In July 2005 UFCW Canada finally convinced the Ontario government to end the discriminatory exclusion of farm workers from coverage under Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). A lengthy UFCW Canada legal action on behalf of the workers pushed the McGuinty government to recently change the Ontario Labour Relations Act; so that as of July 1, 2006 all Ontario agricultural workers will be protected by OHSA, including migrant workers.

An ongoing UFCW Canada Charter challenge of another Ontario act which prohibits farm workers from joining unions could also be heading to the Supreme Court later this year.

The Niagara Region Migrant Agricultural Workers Support Centre is one of five centres funded and operated by UFCW Canada (United Food and Commercial Workers Canada). Other migrant agricultural support centres are located in Leamington, Simcoe and Bradford, Ontario; and in St-Rémi de Napierville, Quebec. Approximately 18,000 migrant agricultural workers come to Canada every year.

UFCW Canada represents over 240,000 workers across Canada in all aspects of the food industry and many other industries.


Sunday, August 7, 2005 2:30 - 4:00 p.m.

Niagara Region Migrant Agricultural Workers Support Centre
Virgil Town Centre, 1501 Niagara Stone Road, Unit 18
Virgil, Ontario tel: 905-468-8329

Stan Raper, UFCW Canada Agricultural Workers National Co-Coordinator
(416) 675-1104 x 232 office (416) 333-2225 cell
-30- /For further information: The "UFCW Canada 2004 National Report on the Status of Migrant Farm Workers in Canada" is available in PDF format. Go to ufcw.ca/publications_main.cgi and you can find the report under the "Organizing Agricultural Workers Publications" menu, along with other articles about the challenges faced by agricultural workers in Canada./ IN: AGRICULTURE, FOOD, JUSTICE, LABOUR, POLITICS

Contact Information

  • Stan Raper, UFCW CANADA
    Primary Phone: 416-675-1104 ext. 232
    Secondary Phone: 416-333-2225
    E-mail: sraper@ufcw.ca