Migrant farmworkers remain at risk a year into pandemic

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Pedro, a Mexican migrant worker, knew he had to leave the Ontario cannabis operation where he worked when so many of his co-workers caught COVID-19 that his employer began to house them in a 16-person bunk house alongside the uninfected. Pedro moved in with friends in the nearby farming town of Leamington, Ont., at the end of October. He asked to be identified under a pseudonym because he fears that speaking out will affect his chances of employment. “I didn’t know where to go, where to get help. So I was left behind, hopeless,” he said, speaking through a translator. About a week later, Pedro landed another job, working with peppers in a greenhouse. Conditions are better, he said. B.C. cannabis growing operation first to unionize in Canada Report: Illegal migrants are being trafficked in the U.K., forced to work on cannabis farms Where did the great Canadian cannabis agricultural story go? But he added: “To be honest, I don’t think all employers are taking precautions.” Pedro is one of about 60,000 migrant farmworkers — many from Central America and the Caribbean — who come to Canada as part of an annual migration of people that ramps up in spring. They grow and harvest the country’s food supply and have continued to work in the midst of a pandemic. They feed the country and are a crucial part of a $68.8 billion sector, making up about one-fifth of the country’s agricultural workforce, according to the Canadian Federation of Agriculture. As the pandemic crippled travel last year, agricultural employers were unable to fill one-fifth of the temporary foreign worker positions they needed, costing Canadian farmers $2.9 billion due to labour shortages, according to research commissioned by the Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council. These workers are also uniquely at risk. They live…

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Source : Migrant farmworkers remain at risk a year into pandemic

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