- Date and time
2011.05.01, 7:32 PM
The men and women who harvest our food and feed our families need your help because fear, danger and oppression are daily realities in our food production system — and government is guilty of promoting it. This was recently confirmed by the United Nations which found Canada and Ontario guilty of violating the rights of farm workers by preventing them from improving their workplace and safety conditions through collective bargaining.
Dangerous Working Conditions
Every day farm workers face dangerous work without proper gear or training. Fatalities are not uncommon, like two workers without respirators who were recently killed by toxic fumes at an Ontario farm.
Deplorable Housing Conditions
Seasonal farm workers are crammed by the dozens into makeshift shanties that go uninspected for health, safety and fire regulations. This shanty for 18 workers has one bath room for 18 workers, no fire escape and windows held together with plastic sheeting.
Workers are killed or injured every season being trucked to the fields, jammed into unsafe vans and flat bed trucks like animals. A tragic example: in 2007 a van packed with 17 farm workers flipped and killed 3 passengers in B.C. The driver was fined $2,000 and given a traffic ticket
Health and Safety Violations
Agriculture workers are told not to report injuries or illness. If they do raise concerns, migrant farm workers are typically shipped out that day and banished from ever working in Canada again.
By choking the labour rights of farm workers, Canada and Ontario are guilty of promoting a system where agriculture workers are chained by desperation and gagged by fear of reprisal if they report health, safety or abuse issues.
Help Canada’s agriculture workers but sharing this story — online and in person — with your friends, family and coworkers. Send a message you can’t accept a food system tainted with abuse, or a government that is guilty of allowing it to continue.
The Legal Struggle Continues :
The highest court in the land ruled the AEPA was good enough for farm workers, even though it does not provide statutory guarantees that employers have to bargain or listen to workers at all.
The Supreme Court ruling comes just five months after the ILO, a United Nations agency, found both Canada and Ontario guilty of violating international conventions and the human and labour rights of Ontario agriculture workers through the imposition of the AEPA. Yet, the Supreme Court did not even refer to the ILO findings in its own decision.
“The ruling of the Supreme Court is a reality, but so is the fact that Canada and Ontario have deservedly become international pariahs because of their attack on the rights of some of the most oppressed workers in the country,” says Hanley, the leader of the union that had brought the issue to the ILO.
“The decision has left workers with AEPA legislation that is practically not workable and provides workers with virtually no protection. It may be the law but there is also the rule of basic human decency. The McGuinty Ontario Liberals can gloat at the expense of abused workers, or they can do the right thing and change the law to grant agriculture workers the same collective bargaining rights as every other worker in the province. To continue with the status quo is indecent and inhumane.”
“The reality is that appealing to the courts has ended. Appealing to the decency and the will of voters is next,” says Hanley. “This is also a political issue. Most Canadians would be appalled at the working and living conditions of tens of thousands of Ontario agriculture workers, many of whom are temporary foreign workers with little effective recourse to their harsh working and living conditions. There is an Ontario election coming and we and our allies and members will make this an issue.”
“We are disappointed but we are not deterred,” said Hanley. “Our Agriculture Worker Support centres in Ontario will continue to operate and serve the needs of these workers because it is clear it is not being satisfied. We remain solidly committed to fight for Ontario agriculture workers until they have the same rights and protections like other Ontario workers.”
- Coordinated by
- Endorsed by
- File Attachments
- Economic sectors
Agriculture and horticulture workers
- Content types
- Target groups
Policymakers, Journalists, Public awareness, Unions, and NGOs/community groups/solidarity networks
- Geographical focuses
Ontario, México, and Guatemala
French and English