Ontario Migrant farmworkers rally in caravan to Ottawa

Tanya Ferguson —

Migrant farmworker caravan travelling 1500 km to Ottawa on the 50th anniversary of the farmworker program stops in Windsor.

Justice for Migrant Workers (J4MW) is a grassroots advocacy group based in Toronto, Leamington and Mexico City. Composed of migrant workers and allies, we fight for improved rights and protections for workers in Canada’s various labour-migration programs including the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program. September 6th, 2016- Migrant Farmworker caravan ‘Harvesting Freedom’ stopped in Windsor on their way to Ottawa to demand permanent immigration status for migrant agricultural workers.Migrant-Workers-FI

Agricultural worker members of community group Justice For Migrant Workers (J4MW) from the Leamington and Windsor region participated in the Windsor Labour Day parade and rally Sept.5 as they started their trek to the nation’s capital. Sept. they rallied in downtown Windsor to demand that the Federal Government and Prime Minister Trudeau grant migrant farmworkers permanent immigration status on arrival to Canada.

“It is important to recognize that migrant workers are the foundation of our local agricultural industry”, says Chris Ramsaroop, an organizer with J4MW. “Today we are exposing the hard truth that for 50 years temporary migrant workers have been a permanent feature of our local food movement. Today we say 50 years is enough! End the injustice by granting migrant workers permanent immigration status”.

J4MW launched the Harvesting Freedom Campaign in Ottawa earlier this year as 2016 marks the 50th anniversary of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP). As part of the campaign, J4MW farmworker members and allies will be travelling over 1,500 km and visiting over 23 communities throughout southern and central Ontario, converging in Ottawa on October 1-3 to echo one demand: that farmworkers be granted permanent immigration status when they come to Canada to work in the fields. The caravan started in Essex County as a testimony and homage to the thousands of migrant agricultural workers who toil in the fields and greenhouses in the region.

The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) is a labour-migration program that brings tens of thousands of Caribbean and Mexican workers annually to toil in fields across Canada. Migrant workers who arrive under this program face many challenges working in Canada, including: having work permits tied to a single employer; being under constant threat of deportation by employers, and are ineligible for permanent residency regardless of how many years they have worked in Canada. See more information at our website www.harvestingfreedom.org

The call for permanent immigration status on landing for migrant workers is the joint position of all major migrant worker groups in Canada, see www.migrantrights.ca

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