Ottawa – March 8, 2019 – UFCW Canada recently traveled to Parliament Hill to present at a Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration hearing on ways to improve Canada’s immigration system and strengthen the rights and working conditions of migrant workers.
The committee is currently examining settlement services provided to newcomers in the wake of unprecedented levels of forced and voluntary migration, as well as increased demands on Canada’s immigration system and how best to respond to those pressures.
At the committee hearing, UFCW Canada National Representative Santiago Escobar outlined UFCW Canada’s extensive history working with migrant and temporary foreign workers in partnership with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), and put forward our union’s recommendations for enhancing the wellbeing of migrant workers, preventing labour exploitation and human trafficking among migrant communities, and empowering migrant workers through education and training.
“We are asking the federal government to partner with UFCW Canada and the AWA to assist migrant workers in learning about their rights and to help provide them with the tools and knowledge needed to maintain a safe and healthy workplace, free of abuse,” Brother Escobar told the committee. “As a national organization with established support networks across Canada, our union is in a unique position to deliver on the government’s mandate of making migrant workers aware of their rights, protecting them from health and safety hazards, and raising awareness of various forms of abuse, including human trafficking.”
“Trained workers will be able to identify occupational hazards and teach other workers how to establish a safe work place,” he continued, while noting UFCW Canada and the AWA’s established track record of helping migrant workers with health and safety issues through AWA support centres. “They will also be able to spot the signs of labour exploitation and know how to report this type of abuse if and when it occurs.”
Prior to attending the committee hearing, UFCW Canada made formal submissions to the federal government on providing union-led health and safety training to migrant workers and protecting migrants and refugees from labour exploitation and trafficking. Both submissions can be downloaded on this page (see documents in sidebar).
For more than thirty years, UFCW Canada has led the way to bring justice, safety, seniority, and better wages to workers who participate in the TFWP, particularly those working in the agricultural sector. Together with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA), UFCW operates numerous support centres for migrant farm workers labouring in Canada. To find out more this ground-breaking work, please visit www.ufcw.ca/awa.