Canada Authorities Investigating Reports Of Ill-Treatment Of Female Farm Workers

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Canadian authorities are investigating reports that women faced ill-treatment while participating in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme on a Nova Scotia farm.

The Saint Lucia media highlighted the issue when one of the women, Latoya Ben, alleged that the women suffered physical and verbal abuse, including being called ‘hungry dogs’.

On Friday, Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Director Dr. Didacus Jules said that the Canadian authorities are investigating the matter.

His complete statement appears below:

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The Canada-Caribbean Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme has been in existence for about 50 years and is a notable example of cooperation between participating Caribbean countries and Canada.  Over the years hundreds of farm workers from OECS communities have travelled to Canada and have engaged in gainful employment on farms across Canada.

Some farm workers have returned to Canada repeatedly for up to 30 years in some cases.  The wages earned have assisted them to support their families, build new homes, send their children to school and to start small businesses in their communities. 

While in Canada, OECS workers are covered by Canadian labour legislation, provincial health insurance and all other labour-related benefits.  OECS workers also benefit from mandatory supplementary health insurance coverage arranged by the Eastern Caribbean Liaison Service (ECLS) with a Canadian insurance provider. 

The ECLS is the Canada-based Unit of the OECS, responsible for coordinating the farm worker programme.

Recently the ECLS has further expanded the Programme to include more women and some non-Agriculture areas, including warehousing and culinary opportunities in Quebec, Canada. 

In 2022 over 40 OECS women joined the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program and worked on farms in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia.  

In that regard, we note the recent press reports about alleged challenges faced by women participating in the programme on a farm in Nova Scotia. This matter is currently being investigated by the Canadian authorities.  The outcome of due process would be communicated at the appropriate time.

The impact of the OECS farm worker’s employment in the past few years has been significant, despite the challenges of the pandemic.

  During that time the ECLS was successful in mobilizing 3 charter flights in 2020 and 4 charter flights in 2021 – to facilitate the airlift of hundreds of farm workers to fulfill their employment contracts, in Canada when commercial flights were disrupted. 

These efforts resulted in workers completing their contracts and earning over 37 million Eastern Caribbean dollars in wages per annum, most of that returning to local OECS economies in the form of remittances.

Headline photo: Stock image

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Editorial Staff
Editorial Staff
Our Editorial Staff at St. Lucia Times is a team publishing news and other articles to over 200,000 regular monthly readers in Saint Lucia and in over 150 other countries worldwide.

4 COMMENTS

    • I firmly believe people should have the right to choose where they wanted to go and work without any injustice or prejudice. The St. Lucian Economy is benefitting handsomely from the remittance aspect while the farmers live in bungalows similarly like the 17th and 18th century life style. We lack unity on this island!

    • that being said if the Mexican are to down tools and return to their homeland the Americans will starved for sure. They will eat the same plastic rice and seafood they once claim China was making.

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