Proposed changes would end exploitation of immigrant and migrant
VANCOUVER, June 18 /CNW/ - A new study of farm work in BC reveals
systematic violations of employment standards and health and safety
regulations, poor and often dangerous working conditions, and dismal
enforcement by government agencies. The study's authors propose comprehensive
policy changes that would ensure farmworkers - most of whom are immigrants and
temporary migrants - are no longer relegated to second-class status.
"Farmworkers are at the mercy of a complex and confusing system that
exploits, threatens and silences them while putting their lives in danger,"
says study co-author Arlene McLaren, Professor Emerita of Sociology at Simon
Among the key findings:
- Farmworkers are routinely exposed to pesticides, gases used for
ripening in greenhouses, and other chemicals without appropriate
protective gear or training.
- Immigrant farmworkers are regularly transported by farm labour
contractors in vans that violate safety regulations. Participants
worried about their safety, but depend on contractors' vans to get to
and from work. They did not report vehicle or other safety violations
for fear of losing their jobs.
- Health and safety standards are routinely violated. For example,
nearly 1 in 4 survey respondents rarely or never had access to a
washroom on the worksite, and one in three rarely or never had access
to any water for hand washing.
- The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), a federal-provincial
program BC joined in 2004, brings a growing number of primarily
Mexican migrant workers to Canada under conditions that amount to
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