The Toronto Youth Food Policy Council (TYFPC) is pleased to endorse the 2016 Harvesting Freedom campaign. This endorsement is to support the demand that the Canadian government allow migrant farm workers in Canada to access full immigration status upon arrival.
This year (2016) marks the 50th anniversary of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers program, a labour program that has brought thousands of Caribbean and Mexican migrant farm workers to toil in fields across the country. The hard work and labour of these workers produces the majority of “local” food grown in Canada, and poses a number of ethical concerns with respect to human rights.
A major issue is that migrant workers are tied to their employer, have no access to residency status, and therefore must return home after their contract. They face little to no worker protection and face tremendous barriers to accessing health care. Migrant workers also suffer workplace harassment and experience differential treatment compared to Canadian residents.
Being tied to an employer creates vulnerable working and living conditions that further expose migrant farm workers to dangerous and precarious conditions. Whether it’s workplace deaths such as Ned Livingston Peart, a Jamaican migrant worker killed in a workplace accident, to the forced DNA sweep of 100 Caribbean migrant workers near London, migrant workers are subjected to differential treatment that must end immediately.
This year, Justicia for Migrant Workers, migrant workers and allies are organizing to demand that the Canadian government provide Permanent Immigration Status for all migrant workers. The government has no excuse to deny this residency status as they have already done so for immigrants, including recent Syrian refugees. As the TYFPC we endorse this movement and support Justicia for Migrant Workers’ continued call to justice.
The Toronto Youth Food Policy Council