INDO CARIBBEAN WORLD http://www.indocaribbeanworld.com/archives/2016/february_17_2016/greater_toronto.htm

By Chris Ramsaroop


On Friday February 12th, dozens of migrant workers and community activists converged on the office of John McCallum, Minister of Citizenship, Refugees and Immigration to call for changes to Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (CSAWP). The action planned by Justicia for Migrant Workers was organized to coincide with the Family Day long weekend.
The workers and their allies demand that the federal Liberals ‘stop breaking the hearts of migrant workers’ and to allow them and their families to apply for permanent residency in Canada.
Migrant Workers delivered a giant Broken Heart with images of their families to the office of the Minister to highlight the impact of being separated from their families.
Migrant worker Rickey Joseph implored the government to undertake reforms to Canada’s immigration laws so that migrant farm workers are treated with compassion and dignity.
“What’s the point of making good money, what’s the point of life if you cannot spend those moments with your kids, with your family?” Joseph asked rhetorically. He added “If only our hands could stay in Canada then they (the Government and employers) would be happy.”
The CSAWP is a managed migration scheme that brings approximately 30,000 farm workers annually from the Caribbean and Mexico to work in agricultural fields across Canada.
Migrant farm workers are tied to an employer and have neither social nor labour mobility while in Canada and no ability to apply for permanent residency. Being tied to an employer means that Canada’s migrant worker programs are akin to indentured labour where employers control every aspect of the lives of migrants while working and living here.
This year (2016) marks the 50th anniversary of the farm worker programme. To highlight this, Justicia for Migrant Workers has launched Harvesting Freedom campaign to call on permanent residency for all migrant farm workers. The campaign will culminate with a march from Windsor to Ottawa that will arrive in Ottawa on October 3rd.
Friday’s action at Minister McCallum’s office is one of a series of actions planned as part of the campaign leading up to the March to Ottawa.
For info, visit: www.harvestingfreedom.org