The parking lot near St. Michael’s Church in Leamington is full but not with cars — with bicycles — the only mode of transportation most temporary foreign workers can afford. Many have ridden 30 minutes, one-way, to attend mass and socialize with their fellow workers. Others have arrived on buses. It is the only chance they have to see each other all week.
This day is special. The workers have gathered to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Agricultural Migrant Workers Support Centre. But the celebration is overshadowed by concerns with changes to the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) that were announced by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada (HRSDC) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) at the end of April — the changes were part of the recently passed federal budget.
How much do Canadians know about the lives of these men and women? Do they know, for example, that they leave behind loved ones and communities for months at a time to travel thousands of miles from their homes to earn a living by helping us to produce our food and to take care of our children, elderly and disabled?