Ottawa ‘remotely’ inspected Ontario farms while COVID-19 infected hundreds of migrant workers

Lisa Xing, CBC News

The federal government has conducted mostly remote inspections of Ontario farms that employ migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, instead of physically entering the properties to make sure the labourers’ living conditions are safe.

Employment and Social Development Canada, the department responsible for the inspections, told CBC News that over the last four months, all the farms it inspected during the initial 14-day mandatory quarantine period complied with the rules as of June 12. […]

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How Canada failed migrant farm workers

Kathryn Blaze Baum and Tavia Grant, The Globe and Mail

When the novel coronavirus pandemic hit in March, the annual flow of farm labour into Canada hung in the balance.

Farmers feared that border closings and grounded planes would prevent agricultural workers, coming from countries such as Mexico, Guatemala and Jamaica, from reaching their fields and greenhouses in time for the seeding season. Knowing this, Ottawa allowed entry of temporary foreign workers critical to the food system.

Conditions – including a mandatory 14-day quarantine upon arrival – were put in place to protect Canadians. But advocates and health officials say not enough was done to protect the workers themselves. […]

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Migrant advocates call on feds to expand EI, CPP to foreign workers

Rachel Emmanuel, iPolitics

Migrant worker advocates say the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for the federal government to create a new mechanism for foreign workers to access critical benefits like employment insurance (EI).

Debbie Douglas, executive director of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, told the House human resources committee on Monday that the government must find a way to ensure that temporary foreign workers (TFWs) can access the benefits they’re already paying into, such as the Canadian Pension Plan (CPP) and EI benefits. […]

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Migrant Workers Advocates Call for Government Action Against Human Trafficking

Isabel Inclan, New Canadian Media

Migrant workers’ advocates are calling on the federal government to adopt a holistic approach to address human trafficking that encompasses prevention, social protections, accountability, and labour mobility.

Migrant groups said existing government programs and policies fail to protect some migrant workers who are most susceptible to labour trafficking. […]

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85 migrant workers test positive in latest Ontario farm outbreak

CBC News

A farm operation in Norfolk County, south of Simcoe, is the latest agricultural facility in Ontario to declare a COVID-19 outbreak after 85 migrant workers tested positive for the virus.

The Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit said Sunday that five workers have been hospitalized and approximately 25 others who tested positive are showing symptoms of the virus.

The migrant workers are employed by Scotlynn Group in Vittoria, a major producer of sweet corn, watermelon, asparagus and pumpkins. Many workers are from Mexico and an official from the Mexican consulate is being made available to speak to those infected. […]

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COVID-19 and Immigration Uncertainty

The Agenda with Steve Paikin, TVO

The COVID-19 pandemic presents a unique set of challenges for migrant workers, non-status individuals, and other vulnerable groups in Canada. The Agenda looks at this issue with Francisco Rico-Martinez, co-director, FCJ Refugee Centre; and Dr. Rupaleem Bhuyan, a University of Toronto social work associate professor and a member of the Rights of Non-Status Women Network.

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As coronavirus wreaks havoc, these precarious workers have ‘no one to turn to’

Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star

Construction worker Cesar Paredes, whose wife is due with their first child on May 29, was told by his foreman last Friday that there’s no job for him and 10 other crew members as construction work slowed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Unlike his Canadian colleagues, the undocumented worker from Mexico is not eligible for employment insurance or any provincial or financial aid for those who have lost their jobs due to the crisis. […]

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Migrants In Ontario Aren’t Getting The Free Health Care They Were Promised

Emma Paling, The Huffington Post

New immigrants and undocumented workers are still being asked to cover their own health-care costs despite the Ontario government’s promise that this wouldn’t happen during the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates say.

“This is unfair because these are people who have been working and sustaining the economy,” said Loly Rico, the co-director of FCJ Refugee Centre in Toronto. “It’s a very high number of people that live in Toronto and need health coverage.”

FCJ Refugee Centre normally operates a health clinic for uninsured people, which saw about 15 patients a week and had a one-month waiting list before it closed because of the pandemic. After Ontario sent a directive telling hospitals to serve all patients, regardless of their insurance coverage, the centre’s health-care staff started sending patients to hospitals. [… ]

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Canada must not be complicit in the U.S. assault on Central American refugees

Sean Rehaag, The Conversation

U.S. President Donald Trump regularly asserts that the United States is under attack by foreign invaders and that he is the only one willing to stop them. Who are these invaders? Central American asylum seekers, mostly from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Amnesty International calls this region “one of the world’s most violent places, with more people killed there than in most conflict zones globally.” Médecins Sans Frontières says that the “violence suffered by people in (these countries) is comparable to the experience in war zones where MSF has been present for decades.” […]

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