Sunday, November 28, 2010

Migrant Workers and WSIB

A recent article  appeared in the Toronto Star on October 8, 2010, written by David Gouter, Assistant Professor in the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University, and Chris Ramsaroop, organizer with Justicia for Migrant Workers, that I must take offense to.  They noted in the article quite incorrectly that there is a massive power imbalance built into temporary foreign worker programs which contribute to unsafe and unfair working conditions.  This is with all due respect is a incorrect assessment based on a lack of knowledge or experience of ever working on a farm or doing an ounce of manual labour in their life.  Firstly, these workers are subject to WSIB coverage from the moment they step foot onto a plane in their home country until they return home. They are covered at church in the grocery store or when they go out to visit other workers off the farm premises.  Who in Ontario has this type of coverage as a worker?  No one! 

The work is difficult but without migrant workers you would not have food on your table, since the work seems to be too difficult for our Ontario workers.  They can be sent home  and terminated just like any other worker in this province when they are under performing or there is a lack of work.  The housing is inspected prior to the worker's arrival to ensure that it meets current standards and overcrowding is not permitted.

As an employer of these migrant workers, I invite and challenge these scholars to do their homework.  There are always a few bad apples, but the majority of migrant workers are happy with their conditions and apply to return year after year to the same employer.  To stage a "Pilgrimage to Freedom for Migrant Workers" who willingly come to Canada to work and come for the sole purpose of making money, seems a bit ridiculous, doesn't it?

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