UFCW Canada

UFCW Canada

April 01, 2005 15:47 ET

Study faults government for migrant worker mistreatment

Report details contravention of International Bill of Human Rights as Canadian government continues to condone exploitation of migrant farm workers Attention: Agriculture Editor, City Editor, Food/Beverage Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - April 1, 2005) - TORONTO, ON - The latest report on the status of migrant agricultural workers in Canada paints a picture of exploitation, unsafe working conditions and arbitrary disciplinary procedures along with other practices that contravene provisions of the United Nations International Bill of Human Rights.

The UFCW Canada National Report on the Status of Migrant Farm Workers in Canada, 2004 is based on UFCW Canada's direct experience from operating five regional Migrant Workers Support Centres: four in Ontario, and one in Quebec. Over the past several years, UFCW Canada (United food and Commercial Workers Canada) has delivered support services, information, training and advocacy to thousands of migrant farm workers working in Canada through the Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (CSAWP).

According to UFCW Canada's national director, Michael J. Fraser, "any Canadian who reads this report will be shocked at how our government has allowed these workers to be treated for the past four decades."

As the report outlines, this year the vast majority of the 18,000 migrant workers brought to Canada will continue to be excluded from the legislative protections of health and safety laws; most employment standard laws; and the freedom to join a union and bargain collectively. All of these workers will be forced to pay Employment Insurance premiums, even though they aren't eligible to collect unemployment insurance.

Migrant housing is often substandard and sometimes unsafe. Discipline is arbitrary and voicing legitimate concerns can often mean being shipped back home the next day at the worker's own expense.

"We've sent this report to the Prime Minister and the Minister of Labour and Housing, and to HRDC," said Fraser, "urging them to make changes to the CSWAP to protect these workers, and to end the violation of their human rights. These men and women deserve the same protections and respect as any other worker in Canada. Anything less is exploitation. The federal government can't continue to condone oppression."

The UFCW Canada National Report on the Status of Migrant Farm Workers in Canada, 2004 is available from www.ufcw.ca in PDF format.
/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

  • Michael Forman, UFCW CANADA
    Primary Phone: 416-675-1104 ext. 249
    Secondary Phone: 416-579-8330