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"Canada: Foreign farm workers demand permanent status." Options
Posted: Sunday, September 11, 2016 5:06:40 PM
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Joined: 7/24/2016
Posts: 364
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Canada is a great country, and I do believe it treats immigrants there very well. However, I came across an article recently which reveals that some immigrant farm workers are unhappy with their life in Canada. (Since America also has not treated our farm workers with great respect, this post should not be seen as being anything more than me, Chazlee, being interested in what is happening with our neighbors).

According to the article, Canada has something called the "Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), which allows Canadian employers to hire temporary farm workers from Mexico and 11 countries in the Caribbean for up to eight months every year. The programme began in 1966 with Canada bringing more than 260 Jamaican workers to Ontario to pick apples amid a shortage of local workers. It mandates that jobs must be in the agricultural sector, and workers must have prior farming experience." So far, so good.

Here is the issue. There is an organization called "Justicia for Migrant Workers (JMW),(which is) a collective in support of foreign agricultural workers that launched the "Harvesting Freedom." The campaign aims to put pressure on Ottawa to give SAWP workers the ability to apply for permanent immigration status. It also hopes to connect seasonal agricultural workers to each other, raise Canadians’ awareness about their poor working conditions."

How bad are the conditions? Well, according to one farm worker, Allahdua, "he shared a bedroom with eight other men, in a home that housed 62 other workers."I had to use earplugs so that I would be able to get some rest because there was no privacy," he said, adding that without Internet, he was cut off from his family and "cut off from the world."Like most seasonal farm workers, his work permit was tied to one specific employer. "Whatever conditions they provide, you don’t have a choice." This worker "said most workers fear that demanding better conditions will result in their deportation from Canada."

"It's a question of whether you put up with the daily conditions that you’re facing, or go back home. What do you do?" he said. "So most people bear the conditions and that’s not an easy thing to do, to bear these conditions quietly."

Canada has a major dilemma with this situation. Just like in the USA, we need people to work in the fields so we can enjoy the foods we have come to love. Yet, since these jobs often do not pay much, and the working conditions are not generally good, many Americans choose not to do such work. So, that creates a problem. The work needs to be done, which often means hiring people who are not Americans.

I am not sure what the best answer is for Canada, or even America. However, I do believe farm workers do a very important job and they should be treated with respect at all times.

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