Aberrant situation of migrant workers in Canada


Kathleen Turkington published an open letter in the Toronto Star, describing the treatment of migrant workers in Canada as disgusting.

Kathleen Turkington published an open letter in the Toronto Star, describing the treatment of migrant workers in Canada as disgusting. The open-ed follows an article published by the Canadian newspaper regarding the plight of 400 migrant workers from Trinidad and Tobago stranded in Canada. The letter calls this situation appalling, adding that the stories of poor working conditions of migrant workers in Canada, their exposure to COVID-19, substandard living situations, and lack of food and support by owners and local authorities is a shameful situation that needs to be corrected.

When we could not find Canadians, who would work out fields, we depended on laborers from abroad to accept working conditions that no Canadians would stand for, Kathleen Turkington notes. “Now they have been abandoned. Disgusting. Who in government do we contact to change this abhorrent situation? What Canadian organization can we contact to help?”. She continues.

Early in December we reported the stories of hundred migrant farmworkers from Trinidad and Tobago stuck in Canada, without work and badly fronting a cold winter. They have paid fees into the work protection system of Canada, but the laws are written in such a way that they’re not qualified to obtain insurance mortgages (EI).

They’ve been told to repay a charge to prolong their work licenses, which expire this week, even though there’s no job for them due to the coronavirus pandemic. That is just the kind of senseless paper-pushing that gives the administration a “bad title.” It is long past time for Ottawa and officials in Trinidad and Tobago to skip through all this inconsistency and get these workers back home to their families.

Trinidad and Tobago closed its frontiers to all foreign travel after COVID-19 became a global pandemic. But migrant farmworkers still can leave the country for work and constructively give remittances back. According to local media reports, about 400 migrant workers arrived in Ontario and Alberta following the request from Ottawa for help in securing Canada’s food supplies. So, Canadians asked them to go, and their country let them travel. International organizations indicated, adding that it is now necessary for both countries to reach a deal to get these migrant workers home as soon as possible.

Canada can manage to pay for the flight utilizing some of the estimated $21 million that seasonal migrant farmworkers spend annually in EI rewards. It’ll no doubt be more affordable than spending to residence and support these workers during the winter.

Local and Foreign NGOs demanded Trinidad and Tobago to waive their travel ban so that foreign workers can go home. They also asked for help with quarantine requirements once they get there. After all, this isn’t a planeload of holiday sun-seekers; these are hard-working citizens who want to go back. Also, activists in Canada are doing a lot to supply the workers with winter clothing and help give them food since they’re living off inadequate profits. They’re also trying to get them access to EI payments and extend work permits. So, they don’t wind up living there illegally and risk to see forbidden future entry into the Country.

About WR News Writer

WR News Writer is an engineer turned professionally trained writer who has a strong voice in her writing. She speaks on issues of migrant workers, human rights, and more.

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