Farmworkers across Canada are demanding change! It requires all levels of government to act!
House of Commons of Canada, Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Support J4MW's call for both provincial and federal governments to implement immediate changes to end the injustices faced by those who put food on our table. These include workplace protections - both in legislation and in practice; income supports; an overhaul of its employment, health and safety, fair compensation and respect from the WSIB, and housing legislation to better protect workers; permanent status on arrival and ending the practice of repatriating and deporting migrants, especially those who are sick or injured.
House of Commons of Canada, Legislative Assembly of Ontario
From: [Your Name]
I support J4MW's call for both provincial and federal governments to implement immediate changes to end the injustices faced by those who put food on our table. These include workplace protections - both in legislation and in practice; income supports; an overhaul of its employment, health and safety, fair compensation and respect from the WSIB, and housing legislation to better protect workers; permanent status on arrival and ending the practice of repatriating and deporting migrants, especially those who are sick or injured.
We are urging the Province and the Ministry of Labour, in particular, to undertake these immediate steps to level the playing field so that all farmworkers can be protected. To date, the federal government has never developed a regularization program for the hundreds of thousands of current and former agricultural workers employed under Canada’s temporary foreign worker programs.
The federal government continues to perpetuate a system of indentured labour rather than provide workers status upon arrival. All regularization programs developed thus far have significant barriers and do nothing but pit workers against one another for limited spots. Canada claims to want immigrants and yet continues to deny status to the thousands of workers who have been toiling in its agricultural industry for months, years, and decades.
On October 31, 2022, eight workers were involved in a car crash on their way to work. Four workers suffered life altering injuries. I am concerned that they will be sent home and denied equal access to workers' compensation: a right they are entitled to.
On October 3, 2022, injured migrant workers and allies delivered an open letter to the WSIB and to provincial and federal agencies demanding that the WSIB, the province, and the federal government take immediate steps to end the discriminatory practices against farm workers. This include ending the practice of deeming and providing injured workers the choice and means to stay in Canada to receive treatment their healthcare and wage loss benefits rather than being repatriated, leaving with permanent injuries and traumas, and falling into poverty. Neither WSIB nor the Government of Canada havehas responded to these important calls.
On August 15, 2022, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ruled that the Ontario Provincial Police racially discriminated against a community of migrant farm workers while they conducted a DNA sweep near Bayham, Ontario. The HRTO found the farm workers were targeted solely on the basis of their skin colour and their status as migrant farmworkers, and that DNA samples were obtained from them even if they had alibis or did not match the suspect description. To date, the DNA samples have not been destroyed.
On August 14, 2022, migrant farm worker Gavin Yapp died in a workplace accident. Agricultural workers are excluded from full protections under Ontario’s occupational health and safety act. To date, there has never been an inquest into the death of a migrant agricultural worker in Ontario. Gavin's death, and the deaths of the many workers who have come before him, have not been brought to justice.
We demand that the provincial government takes the following steps:
• Destroy the DNA and end racist policing against farm workers.
• End the practice of ‘Deeming’ by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of
Ontario whereby migrant farm workers are having their benefits cut off.
• Expand the Occupational Health and Safety Act to include real protections
against dangerous working conditions, include agriculture-specific regulations,
and extend protections to migrant worker accommodations. Unlike other
industries, there are no comprehensive regulations that protect agricultural
workers, including their use of dangerous chemicals. The Ministry of Labour
must update the OHSA to mandate comprehensive training and personal
protective equipment to protect workers from dangerous working conditions.
• Expand the Employment Standards Act so that agricultural workers are
provided with rights that are fully covered by the act. Currently farm workers
are denied holiday pay, overtime, minimum hours of work amongst multiple
• Strengthen reprisal protections so workers are not penalized for refusing
unsafe working conditions. Migrant farmworkers are penalized for refusing
unsafe work under the current legislation, and face many barriers in asserting
their reprisal rights given their precarious immigration status.
• Legislate mandatory inquests when migrant farmworkers are killed on the
farm. So far, at least 20 migrant farmworkers have died this year. The cause of
death for many is still unknown. There has never been an inquest into the
death of a migrant farmworker, even while it is understood that the industry is
• Expand healthcare whereby access to healthcare is no longer tied to a migrant
worker’s work permit.
• Legislate migrant farmworkers’ right to organize. All workers should be entitled
to organize to advocate for their rights in the workplace and build collective
power. Currently, agricultural workers are not permitted to do so.
WE ALSO URGE THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA TO:
• Provide income support to all migrant farmworkers. This includes access to all
entitlements including: Employment Insurance and Canadian Pension Plan
which many workers cannot access due to repatriation, but which they have
been paying into for decades.
• Provide migrant farmworkers with open work permits. This helps to ensure
they are not tied to a single employer, and can therefore leave exploitative and
abusive conditions - without having to apply for a permit.
• Permanent status on arrival and end the practice of repatriating and deporting
migrants. It is common for migrant farmworkers to be repatriated, especially
those who are sick or injured, because they are viewed as disposable.
• Provide decent and adequate housing to migrant farmworkers. Migrant
farmworkers live in dangerous and subpar living conditions that are similar to
plantation housing. The provincial and federal governments have failed
migrant workers because employers are not held accountable for providing
inhumane living conditions as different jurisdictions continue to point fingers.
The issues raised in this petition are long-standing requests that farm workers have been bringing forward for decades. To stamp out the spread of this pandemic, it is vital that structural changes are made to address the systemic power imbalances that exist in our fields.
I urge you to take immediate action to implement these critical recommendations.