‘Fifty years of injustice is enough’ is the rallying cry members of Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) brought to Parliament Hill. The advocacy group launched their historic ‘Harvesting Freedom’ campaign on January 25, 2016.
The campaign calls on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to grant migrant farmworkers immigration status upon arrival rather than the current model that leaves workers vulnerable to abuse. ‘Harvesting Freedom’ is a year-long campaign that begins today and will feature a Pilgrimage to Ottawa set to arrive on October 2nd, 2016.
Following a a press conference on Parliament Hill, migrant workers visited the office of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urging him to support the call to action by Justicia for Migrant Workers.
“Status for migrant workers is the only solution to the injustices that we face daily in the fields,” said Ricky Joseph, a Caribbean migrant farm worker. “We are fearful of being deported from Canada for standing up for our rights. All we are asking for is for fairness for all workers across the board.”
The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) is a labour-migration program that brings approximately 30,000 migrant workers from the Caribbean and Mexico annually to work in fields across Canada. Migrant workers who arrive under this program face many challenges working in Canada, including: having work permits tied to a single employer; being under constant threat of deportation by employers, and never being eligible for permanent residency regardless of how many years they have worked in Canada.
“Low-waged workers like myself coming to Canada in the Temporary Foreign Workers Program, the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program and the Caregiver Program are tied to a single employer by their work permit,” says Gina, a Filipina temporary foreign worker employed in greenhouses in Ontario. “This means we are subject to abuse and exploitation and separation from our families. I witnessed many migrant workers who are exploited and can’t speak up because of the fear of being deported and losing this job.”
“Actions will take place across Canada to highlight the resistance that migrant farm workers have undertaken to counter the exploitation they face as a result of inhumane immigration policies,” says Tzazná Miranda Leal, an organizer with J4MW.
J4MW is a grassroots advocacy group based in Toronto, Vancouver, and Mexico City composed of migrant workers and allies. We advocate and organize to improve rights and protections for workers in Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program including migrant workers employed under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.