Winnipeg – September 17, 2018 – UFCW Canada recently participated in the federal government’s consultations on human trafficking. Taking place in Winnipeg, the consultations involved a number of advocates and organizations who shared experiences and strategy ideas with the government on stopping human trafficking, sex and labour exploitation in Canada.
As a long-time advocate for migrant workers, UFCW Canada was invited by the feds to lead the discussion on instances of abuse taking placing in our country’s agriculture sector. The consultations, called Engagement on the Way Forward to End Human Trafficking in Canada, are especially timely, given the recent case of migrant farm workers in Southwestern Ontario whose labour was sold through the shadow economy, as reported by local media outlets.
After reaching out to the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) Support Centre in Leamington, a number of the migrants have since been declared victims of trafficking in persons and been granted federal protection and open work permits.
“We have noticed human trafficking cases have increased among migrant farm workers due to the lack of information and training on this issue,” says UFCW Canada National Representative Santiago Escobar, who coordinates the union’s agricultural worker organizing efforts in conjunction with the AWA.
“Migrant workers don’t know their labour rights nor their immigration options, and in the case of Ontario, Agriculture workers can’t join a union, making them more vulnerable to labour exploitation.”
The consultation’s main points and recommendations have since been published by the government as a draft discussion paper.
In particular, UFCW Canada is recommending:
A holistic support protocol for survivors, which would act quickly to take them out of exploitative situations
Responsible supply chain policies
Requisite training programs
Enhanced permanent residency opportunities and open work permits
For more updates on this important story, stay tuned to DIRECTIONS.