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Temporary migrant workers: problem swept under the rug, activists say is not affected by the changes announced Thursday. (Archives)</p>
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Changes to foreign worker programs announced Thursday ignore the problems of these workers, activists say. In fact, they say, the agricultural sector is not affected by the reform. However, this is where the problems are most frequent, according to them.

In certain sectors of the economy, the percentage of temporary foreign workers per employer will be reduced and employers will have to justify more why they cannot hire people already in the country.

However, not all sectors of the economy are affected by these changes which will come into force on May 1. Agricultural crops – very important in southwestern Ontario – are only minimally affected. And this sector hires a lot of temporary foreign workers.

The status quo remains for people who pick fruits and vegetables in the Windsor-Essex region, laments Chris Ramsaroop, an organizer with Justice for Migrant Workers. migrant workers, free translation].

Despite everything, the representative of agricultural greenhouse operators in the province recalls that very few Canadians work in the sector of agriculture.

According to Richard Lee, general manager of the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers, It is unfortunate that we cannot find Canadian workers to work in agriculture and to support our farms. Across Ontario, more than 12,000 workers come to this country to support food security, he adds.

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Richard Lee is the executive director of the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers Association.

This is perhaps why the reforms announced Thursday do not affect this sector and the number of temporary foreign workers will not be affected.

In fact, it is the food manufacturing, wood product manufacturing and furniture and related product manufacturing sectors, as well as accommodation and food services, that will need to reduce the most number of temporary workers in their ranks due to regulatory changes announced by the Minister of Employment and Workforce Development, Randy Boissonnault.

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Chris Conway represents the province's food processing sector. From now on, employers in this sector will have to limit the rate of employees from temporary worker programs to 20%.

We do not use as many temporary foreign workers as primary agriculture, but we still use a significant number in some of these businesses, and it will take time for this to work its way through the system, Conway said , CEO of Food and Beverage Ontario.

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The number of temporary workers will be further restricted in the food processing sector. (Archives)

Despite everything, [these regulatory changes] are not seen as a good thing. Labor is our biggest problem.

A quote from Chris Conway, CEO of Food and Beverage Ontario

The fact that the work permit of temporary foreign workers is linked to a particular employer is a constant source of concern for these workers. A temporary foreign employee who must leave his job must then find a new employer who has a Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) in hand and who agrees to hire him, otherwise this worker risks finding himself in the administrative limbo, Migrant Workers Alliance representatives explained earlier this month.

According to Santiago Escobar of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, the current program presents an imbalance of power because migrant workers are tied to a single employer, which is an ideal scenario for employers. unscrupulous people who take advantage of migrant workers.

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Santiago Escobar represents the United Food and Commercial Workers union.

Mr. Ramsaroop agrees with Mr. Escobar. This statement from the federal government that action will be taken on May 1 will do nothing to alleviate the concerns that [these workers] are raising and continue to raise.

He calls on the federal government to open more doors for temporary workers. If pathways to permanent residency were expanded, it would be good news for migrant workers.

Last September, Tomoya Obokata, the United Nations special rapporteur, said that Canada's temporary foreign worker programs are a breeding ground for contemporary forms of slavery.

As part of the government's broader commitment to protecting temporary foreign workers from mistreatment and abuse, Budget 2021 committed $49.5 million over three years to implement a new support program for migrant workers to better support temporary foreign workers by addressing power imbalances between employers and workers, the federal government said in a press release issued Thursday.

For his part, Immigration Minister Marc Miller said Thursday that the growing number of asylum seekers who have an open work permit while waiting for their paperwork to be processed is a factor that plays into the government's decisions. federal.

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Federal Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, Marc Miller. (Archives)

We cannot ignore the pressures created by the historic volumes of asylum seekers arriving in Canada. It is essential to have a sufficiently resourced system to efficiently and fairly process asylum applications and to manage temporary resident volumes.

With information from CBC

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