Monthly Archives: June 2009

Setback for Historic Effort to Unionize Guest Farm Workers

Foreign crop pickers in Surrey made history last summer when they voted to unionize. Labour activists sensed a new pool of workers was now ripe for organizing.

But those gains are on the verge of being wiped away as labourers at Greenway Farms have filed to withdraw from the union certification won by the United Food and Commercial Workers.

If the de-certification attempt is successful in hearings slated for June 30 at the LRB, it will mark a set-back for the UFCW’s multi-year drive to unionize agricultural workers in Canada. Last summer’s win for the UFCW marked the first time in B.C. that migrant workers, brought into Canada as temporary guest workers under the controversial Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), had successfully joined a Canadian union.

However, most of the Mexican workers who supported the union drive a year ago reportedly have not been brought back this season, creating a mostly new and much more local work force at the farm.

Pro-union workers weeded out: organizer

Union organizer Lucy Luna told the Tyee that while Greenway had employed 35 Mexican workers through the federal guest worker program last year, only 12 migrant workers had been called back for this season, with the Greenway workforce topped up by hiring 28 new local Indo-Canadian workers.

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Amendments Punish Migrant Workers: Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW)

J4MW Demands Government Prosecute Employers, Recruiters not Persecute Workers

Toronto – Proposed legislation tabled by the Federal Conservatives today will erect more barriers for migrant workers to exert their rights says Justicia for Migrant Workers, a Toronto-based advocacy group.

According to a statement from the Federal Government, proposed amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) would “give the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration the authority to instruct immigration officers to deny work permits to vulnerable foreign workers who may be trafficked into Canada and forced to perform humiliating and degrading jobs against their will.” (Government press release June 17, 2009)

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Toronto 18/06/2009 – The Conservative government is introducing legislation which it claims will help protect foreign workers from exploitation and abuse. The amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) will allow officials to deny work permits to temporary foreign workers.

“This legislation does nothing more than further victimize workers who want to come to Canada,” says Wayne Hanley, the national president of UFCW Canada.
“Once again the Conservatives are putting the blame on the workers, rather than on unscrupulous employers and the lack of proper government monitoring and enforcement measures to protect Temporary Foreign Workers.”

This is the second time that the Conservatives have introduced such a bill to amend the IRPA. The last incarnation of the bill died with the October 2009 election.

“Community groups and temporary foreign worker advocates have already expressed our concerns with this bill. Slapping a new sticker on the same old package does not change the substance of this legislation,” exclaimed Naveen Mehta, UFCW Canada Director of Human Rights, Equity, and Diversity. “There are no shortcuts to the protection of rights.  If the government is truly interested in protecting foreign workers, then they would grant permanent residency to these vulnerable workers – rather than punishing them for the actions of bad employers and recruiters.”

As Canada’s largest private-sector union, UFCW Canada has been advocating for the rights of temporary foreign workers across Canada for almost two decades.
In association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), UFCW Canada also operates nine agriculture worker support centres across Canada, including one in Leamington, Ontario.  These centres have provided assistance to tens of thousands of workers since the first centre opened its doors in 2002.

In Solidarity/Solidairement,

Naveen P. Mehta, Lawyer/Avocat
Director, Human Rights, Equity and Diversity
Directeur, Droits de la personne, Équité et Diversité

United Food and Commercial Workers Canada /
Travailleurs et travailleuses unis de l’alimentation et du commerce Canada

Nouveau rapport sur les travailleurs migrants / new report on migrants

(english below)

Le Comité permanent de la citoyenneté et de l’immigration de la Chambre des communes a déposé le rapport Les travailleurs étrangers temporaires et les travailleurs sans statut légal en mai 2009. Par la suite, il a décidé de tenir des audiences pour connaître les réactions des intéressés à son rapport et pour entendre d’autres témoignages, surtout sur le Programme des aides familiaux résidants. Ce programme vise les personnes qui viennent au Canada à titre de résidents temporaires pour s’occuper d’aînés, d’enfants ou de personnes handicapées. Dans le présent rapport, le Comité formule de nouvelles recommandations sur le Programme des aides familiaux résidants et aborde le cas d’aides familiales résidantes qui ont travaillé pour une famille en particulier.

Le Comité désire aussi mettre en lumière les préoccupations soulevées au sujet d’une question connexe, les consultants en immigration, à savoir des personnes qui ne sont pas des avocats et qui, contre rémunération, donnent des conseils et de l’aide dans le domaine de l’immigration ou représentent des clients devant les tribunaux de l’immigration. Il a tenu des audiences sur cette question au cours de la deuxième session de la 39e législature. En juin 2008, il a adopté le rapport Réglementation des consultants en immigration, dont les recommandations sont encore pertinentes et cruciales, de sorte qu’elles ont été placées à l’annexe 2 du présent rapport pour compléter l’étude sur les travailleurs migrants et les consultants fantômes.

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recommandations à propos des travailleurs étrangers temporaires


The House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration tabled the report Temporary Foreign Workers and Non-Status Workers in May 2009.  Subsequently, the Committee decided to hold hearings to receive feedback on the report and to hear additional testimony on the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP) in particular.  The LCP is a specialized program for people to come to Canada as temporary residents and provide care to seniors, children, and persons with disabilities.  This report makes additional recommendations specific to the LCP and addresses the situation of live-in caregivers in a particular family residence.

The Committee also wishes to highlight concerns with a related matter, that of immigration consultants; non-lawyers who, for a fee, provide advice and assistance in immigration matters, or representation before immigration tribunals.  The Committee held hearings on this topic during the Thirty-Ninth Parliament, Second Session and adopted the report Regulating Immigration Consultants in June 2008.  We believe the recommendations from this report are still relevant and critical today, and have appended them as Appendix 2 to this report in completion of our study on migrant workers and ghost consultants.


Recommendations regarding temporary foreign workers

Farm profits soar but workers are still exploited

Farm profits soar but workers are still exploited | National Union of Public and General Employees

Farm sector total net revenues increased for the second consecutive year to $3.3 billion — up $1.3 billion.

Ottawa (28 May 2009) – Profits in Canadian agriculture continue to soar while workers in the field remain one of the most exploited labour groups in Canada.

The employees include more than 22,000 agricultural workers who come to Canada each season under the federal government’s Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (CSAWP).