This year marks the 56th anniversary of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), the branch of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program (TFWP) that is specific to agriculture. It was created in 1966 to solve a problem: the labour gap in agriculture here in Canada.

At the time, finding local people who were willing to take on farm work was increasingly difficult or next to impossible. Since then, much has changed, but that same labour gap still exists. Canadian farms still have trouble finding local people to fill seasonal jobs. The seasonality of the job, combined with low wages (necessary to keep food prices in line with market expectations) makes it difficult to make ends meet for the months where there is no work. The physical demands of hard labour also make the work less appealing. As costs rise on everything, including basic housing and food, precarious work is less appealing than ever.

Without the labour of migrant workers, many farms would not be able to manage, certainly not at the scale needed to keep up with Canadian food supply demands. On our farm, seasonal teams are made up of locals, students, and Jamaican migrant workers. Some of the migrant workers have been returning to our farm since we first turned to the program in 2005. We rely on their extensive knowledge of our farm, and their expertise in what they do to provide leadership to the ever-changing local and student team members.

On our farm, seasonal teams are made up of locals, students, and Jamaican migrant workers.

After 56 years, it is safe to say that the need for this program is going to continue. This group of “temporary” foreign workers are treated as permanently temporary; some workers travel to Canada for decades – for most of their working lives. Most workers come for well over 50% of the year. This is a sacrifice most people can’t imagine having to make. Yet they do make the sacrifice, year after year, in order to make a better life for their families back home.

Some migrant workers travel to Canada for work for decades – hardly temporary.

There are significant problems within the program. Some of them are in practice, and others are systemic problems within the program itself.

The pandemic has shone a spotlight on the housing conditions migrant farm workers live in on some farms. Inadequate, inhumane housing, which has been called out before without much action taken, became an even bigger problem as covid spread like wildfire through cramped bunkhouses. Measures taken to keep people safe like social distancing and quarantining were not adequate to protect this vulnerable group. Since the pandemic started, migrant workers have lost their lives to the virus in Canada.

In order to make the SAWP program safe and fair, some key changes are needed:

Permanent resident status on arrival in Canada. This status would grant workers rights upon their arrival which would make it harder for them to be exploited.Open work permits and safe channels to speak out without fear of repatriation. As it is currently, a worker is tied to one employer. Recently, this problem was addressed at the policy level; legally, if a worker faces abuse from their employer, they can apply to open their work permit and work for someone else in Canada. There have been issues reported accessing this right however, and the imbalance of power that makes it difficult for a worker to speak out is still there. Ability to draw upon EI benefits or stop paying into the EI program. Migrant workers have a portion of their pay deducted for EI, but are unable to access the benefits when they are needed. Open pathway to immigration for those who wish to pursue it. Currently, migrant workers are not eligible to apply for permanent residency/ citizenship, despite the fact that they are part of the fabric of our communities for more than half of the year.Rights explained properly (in their own language where applicable). When language is a barrier, it is difficult to access things like health care and WSIB, which migrant workers are entitled to. Or even to know that they are entitled at all.Better inspections and accountability for living conditions.

Despite the extensive media coverage, here we are in spring of 2022 with very little in the way of changes.

Future

In spite of the challenges, the benefits to both Canada and the host country are undeniable. Canadians still turn from seasonal farm work for a variety of reasons; yet, producing food is essential for everyone. Until growing the food we eat receives respect and financial compensation in line with the value it has to our survival, we will not be able to sustainably recruit people to do the labour required. And farmers will continue to look to the TFWP/SAWP to fill these crucial roles.

Producing food is essential, and the work it takes to do so is deserving of respect.

General economic conditions and high unemployment rates in the host countries mean that even with a seasonal, lower wage job, workers can earn enough to make a significant difference for their families back home. This is why so many continue to make the sacrifice, year after year, despite the hardships they face.

We need to acknowledge that farm labour shortages are the result of an interconnected complex of socio-economic factors that can’t be fixed by simply eliminating the Migrant Worker programs. Until we can address those, TFWP and SAWP are here to stay. The migrant workers these programs bring are vital members of our society.

We must do what is right. Make changes to the program to ensure a just, dignified, and fair workplace. It’s time to bring this program into alignment with the values we claim to hold as Canadians today.

Sources, Resources & Further Reading:

https://www.nfu.ca/about/international/migrant-worker-subcommittee/

https://metcalffoundation.com/publication/made-in-canada-how-the-law-constructs-migrant-workers-insecurity/

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/migrants.html

https://activehistory.ca/2019/04/welcome-to-canada-a-story-from-the-first-year-of-the-seasonal-agricultural-workers-program/

https://www.ufcw.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=32236&Itemid=2420&lang=en&limitstart=3

https://edibletoronto.ediblecommunities.com/food-thought/canadas-seasonal-agricultural-worker-program-employs-migrant-workers

http://pfenningsfarms.ca/film-on-the-farm/

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2016/05/19/the-shame-of-our-disposable-workers.html

https://pfenningsfarms.ca/cultivating-justice/

https://www.therecord.com/news/waterloo-region/2016/07/21/migrant-farm-workers-hope-for-improvements-to-program.html

https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/migrants.html

THANK YOU!

Thanks to your donations, we can move to the next step.  We have filed to incorporate Awake Canada as a registered non profit charitable organization.  To be transparent, I have posted the receipts below.

For those that do not know why we did this, let me explain.   We are going to start using corporate clout to tackle some of the companies that are violating our rights.  Our first target is Facebook Canada for the unlawful censorship, banning, and shadow banning of Canadian Citizens.  Facebook is a platform, not a publisher.  They can write all the mumbo jumbo they want into their terms and conditions, but it does not excuse them from medical liability if people are harmed by them censoring doctors, and lawyers about what is really going on with Covid.

As a registered member of Awake Canada, if we push to class action, you will be automatically entered into this class action and dismissed if you have not ever had a facebook account.   My lawyer will inform me on this as we move to this process.  We are going to start by placing an injunction on my personal account, removing all bans, and shadow bans, and the Awake Canada facebook page.  Any action they take against this page or the content, will be challenged legally.  Be sure you are a member of that page if you are not.   You can join our Facebook Here.

We are temporarily going to pause donations, until the registration process is complete and a new bank account for Awake Canada is setup.  Separating my personal affairs from this corporation is KEY to being successful in our campaigns.

Stay tuned for further updates!

Help us spread the word, by sharing these vital links below:

To see Bonnie Henry’s emails proving knowledge of harm of vaccines:
https://awakecanada.org/bonnie-henrys-emails-freedom-of-information-act/

To see the legal challenge that is happening worldwide:
https://awakecanada.org/lawyer-videos/

To see hundreds of hours of doctors speaking out:
https://awakecanada.org/category/videos/doctors-speaking-out/

Important legal documents to your rights as Canadian citizen:
https://awakecanada.org/documentation/

The most important documentary on what is happening in the world right now:
https://awakecanada.org/the-complete-documentary-of-what-is-happening-in-this-world/

Proof of Genocide:

Dr. David Martin lays it out for you:
https://awakecanada.org/dr-david-martin-on-fire/

The only proof anyone should need:
https://rumble.com/vlbh8c-the-only-proof-anyone-should-need..html

Alarming uptick in cancers since jab rollout:
https://awakecanada.org/dr-ryan-cole-covid-19-vaccines-causing-an-alarming-uptick-in-cancers/

3 times more covid deaths since vaccine rollout:
https://awakecanada.org/3-times-more-covid-deaths-after-vaccine-rollout-hmmmmm/

One America Insurance CEO reports 40% increase in death claims since vaccine rollout:
https://awakecanada.org/death-rates-up-by-40-in-ages-18-65-death-jabs/