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Report/Press release

Agriculture profits up 63% in 2008 but what about the workers? Bumper year for owners but not for exploited workers

Date

2009-05-26

Authors

Agriculture Workers Alliance

Abstract

Profits in the Canadian agriculture sector have jumped a
second year in row while the workers in the field continue to be one of the most
exploited labour forces in Canada — including the more than 22,000 agriculture workers
who come to Canada each season under the federal government’s Canadian Seasonal
Agricultural Workers Program (CSAWP

Series title

AWA E-News

Full text

TORONTO, May 26, 2009 – Profits in the Canadian agriculture sector have jumped a
second year in row while the workers in the field continue to be one of the most
exploited labour forces in Canada — including the more than 22,000 agriculture workers
who come to Canada each season under the federal government’s Canadian Seasonal
Agricultural Workers Program (CSAWP).
This week Statistics Canada reported that farm sector total net revenues increased for
the second consecutive year to $3.3 billion — up $1.3 billion from 2007. Meanwhile
wages for most agriculture workers remain the lowest in Canada “because the system is
set up to keep these workers powerless,” says Wayne Hanley, the national president of
UFCW Canada.
UFCW Canada, in association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance, operates nine
agriculture worker support centres across Canada. In 2008 the centres handled more
than 40,000 inquiries from both domestic and CSAWP workers.
“CSAWP workers have no say about their pay or working conditions. That is strictly left
up to the government and the farm lobby,” explained Hanley. “It is the same story for all
farm workers in Ontario and Alberta because their Charter rights continue to be violated
by provincial bans on farm unions.”
Field workers in Alberta are also excluded from protections of the province’s workplace
health and safety regulations. Only token protections exist in Ontario where farms
receive a provincial safety inspection about once a decade.
“The blatant discrimination against agriculture workers has to end,” said Hanley. “It
means billion in profits for the agriculture industry at the cost of the workers' health,
safety and workplace rights."

Links

Economic sectors

Agriculture and horticulture workers

Content types

Policy analysis

Target groups

Public awareness

Geographical focuses

Canada, Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, British Columbia, Other provinces, Federal, Nova Scotia, and National relevance

Languages

English