The issue of health and safety is one of central concern among migrant agricultural workers labouring under the Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP). Under this program that brings them to work ‘temporarily’ in Ontario fields, their right to health and safety has been largely deprioritized and in many cased ignored, leaving these individuals continuing to sustain the Canadian agricultural industry at great personal risk.
On August 9th 2009, Migrant Worker Community Health Day was held in Virgil, Ontario. Health day consisted of a series of workshops related to health. These workshops were based on the active participation of those attending, and were driven by their testimony and knowledge. The event sought to create a space in which migrant agricultural workers labouring in the region could voice their concerns, initiate dialogue, receive resources, and collectively strategize on how to reduce barriers and better their ability to ensure their health and well being. The following interview briefly highlights concerns commonly forwarded by individuals in the migrant worker community of Virgil. The interview is with Liz, a Mexican womyn labouring under SAWP. She speaks to her experiences under the program and connects discussion to the issue of health.
Note* The interviewee speaks in Spanish and English translation is included alongside.
“My employer should understand that I’m not a machine…”- Liz
“What good are you to me in Canada if you can’t work?” -an employer perpetuates the dominant culture of inhumaness, abuse and exploitation.
The event was organized by groups ENLACE and the Migrant Support Center.
If you’re interested in helping out with migrant agricultural worker advocacy work contact:
ENLACE community link, [email protected]
Agriculture Workers Alliance- Virgil, ON, [email protected]