Seasonal agricultural workers treated well says program spokesman

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‘We’re good people and we have good people working for us’ says Ken Forth, president of Canada’s Foreign Agricultural Management Services

photo: Ken Forth


Whenever a farmer works at an off-farm job, he/she is entitled to participate in the full range of collective bargaining options - yet that right is denied to farm workers, both domestic and off-shore. It makes the farm community look hypocritical and selfish to deny our employees what we expect, and get, when we, ourselves, are employees in non-farm work-places. And, please, let's not get carried away by the usual red-herring about farm worker strikes - all we need to do is make binding arbitration compulsory, the way it's done with any essential service.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

The SAWP is working well for our farmers and is a huge benefit for the men and women who come here to work. It is highly regulated, more so than any farm work program in North America. Our fruits and vegetables cost more for our farmers to produce because of these regulations and high labour costs and we as consumers get to enjoy produce far superior to that which has been shipped a thousand miles.
I live in an agricultural area of Niagara and the problems which I have become acutely aware of are those built into the system itself. The role of WSIB has become a joke, forcing the farmers to pay exorbitant rates and then treating injured workers as criminals when accidents or work related ilness occurs. I know of honest, hard working men, some of who have been coming to the same farms over ten years who have suffered work related injuries or illness. Once the injuries are determined to be permanent the WSIB's deeming policy kicks in and they are cut off from all compensation for economic loss. Their families are destitute because their husbands/fathers are permanently unemployable. I know because I have visited these families in their homeland. I have seen first hand the suffering they are experiencing because of policies created by the Canadian government. Maura Murphy, manager of Corporate Communications and Issue Management at WSIB states that 'They ( workers who have been injured on the job ) receive wage loss benefits ( to age 65 even if they return to their home country) along with a broad range of recovery and rehabilitation services."
It is long overdue that WSIB remove the policy of deeming and construct a policy based on the protection of human rights and what is just and fair.

Jane Andres
Niagara on the Lake

How can you talk about the protection of human rights, yet turn around and deny these workers the basic human right of all Canadian workers (except farm workers) to collective bargaining? In addition, these workers are suffering, not because of WSIB, but because they were injured while working on a Canadian farm. Do you not think the ultimate responsibility for workplace safety compliance and mitigation rests with the farmers who employ these workers, rather than WSIB? I do.

Stephen Thompson, Clinton ON

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