Harvesting Freedom: 50 years of farm-worker resistance
2016 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers program, a guest worker program that has brought thousands of Caribbean and Mexican migrant farm workers to toil in fields across Canada.
Migrant workers under this program are tied to their employer, have no access to residency status and must return home after their contract despite how many years they worked in Canada.
This year, migrant workers and allies are organizing to demand that the Canadian government provide residency status for all migrant workers. We the undersigned echo and endorse this demand.
Status for all migrant workers.
- Prime Minister of Canada/Premier ministre du Canada
- Prime Minister
- Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
- Minister of Agriculture and Agrifood
- Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour
Dear Prime Minister Trudeau,
2016 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), a guest worker program that has brought thousands of Caribbean and Mexican migrant farm workers to toil in fields across Canada.
As Canadians, we rely on migrant workers to put food on our table and be the backbone of the agricultural industry. The program has become a permanent part of our labour-migration system, with workers often returning to the same farms and communities year after year for decades with no ability to settle or integrate into the communities that depend on their labour. Migrant workers under this program have few rights and are tied to their employer, have no access to permanent residency status and must return home after their contact.
Over the past fifty years countless workers have described the conditions under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program as inhumane and unjust. From being sent home for standing up for their rights at work or after an injury, to being denied equal access to our healthcare system, migrant workers face differential treatment than residents of Canada.
Being tied to an employer creates vulnerable working and living conditions that further imperil migrant farm workers and put them in dangerous and precarious conditions. Whether it's workplace deaths such as Ned Livingston Peart, a Jamaican migrant worker killed in a workplace accident in 2002 in Brantford, Ontario to the forced DNA sweep of 100 Caribbean migrant workers near London, Ontario migrant workers are face risks and violations of their dignity and rights that must end.
In this 50th year of the program, migrant workers and allies are organizing to demand that the Canadian government provide permanent residency status for all migrant workers. We the undersigned echo and endorse this demand.
Permanent immigration status on landing for farmworkers and all migrant workers in Canada.
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