Saint Lucian Worker Speaks Of Ill-Treatment On Canadian Farm

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A Saint Lucian woman who spent nearly six months in the seasonal agricultural farm worker programme in Canada says she and other females experienced ill-treatment and disrespect, including being called ‘hungry dogs’.

She also said a worker was kicked.

Latoya Ben recalled earning around $700 a fortnight, from which taxes, rent and utilities had to be paid.

“The money was not worth it,” she observed.

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As a result of her experience, she has urged the authorities here to do a proper investigation before sending women to work on Canadian farms.

Nevertheless, Ben told St Lucia Times she appreciated the opportunity the government gave women.

But she said when they arrived on the farm to pick strawberries, what they expected did not materialise.

“Honestly, the housing was okay even though we had to pay for housing and utilities. But we didn’t know we had to work to pay ourselves. We didn’t know we had to be crawling on our knees 24-7 to make money to pay ourselves,” Ben explained.

Strawberries are harvested from the ground, with pickers usually resting their knees on a gardening pad.

“You have to be crawling on your knees whole day,” Ben disclosed.

She said the workers signed a contract to work for $13.35 an hour.

“When we arrived in Canada we signed another contract stating that we had to work to pay ourselves,” she told St Lucia Times.

According to Ben, the farm did not pay them for working extra time or on holidays.

 She recalled that both Saint Lucians and Jamaicans were impacted.

“They used to treat the Jamaicans like s***,” Ben said.

She said Saint Lucia and Jamaica Liaison Officers visited to analyse the situation.

However, she said as soon as the Saint Lucia official, who did his best to assist, left after ensuring that everything went well, the disrespect resumed.

“He did very well. He tried to help us. He told us to finish the contract then he was going to see if he could try to set up another farm, but not all of us could have gone,” Ben explained.

She said she would welcome another opportunity to work with the seasonal Canadian agriculture workers programme, but not at the farm where she and others experienced ill-treatment.

Forty Saint Lucian women made history earlier this year as the first batch of females to enroll in the seasonal farm workers programme in Canada.

Jamaica is reported to have withdrawn its workers from four Canadian farms since the start of this year due to unacceptable conditions.

 

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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.

74 COMMENTS

  1. well with some of the negative comments i see how divided we lucians are with our own kind is like ppl cannot speak to what that’s affecting them smfh with humans

  2. I am so sorry my dear….it is not easy working as a foreigner, especially if you are black. i hate saying what is, but its a known fact. get less pay, get ridicule, work harder, basically you stand alone. this is how you know how much you get away with in you country. I have served in the military and trust me, no matter if you got the rank you will get tested, just because of your race….but always stand up for your human rights. and just be careful

  3. They complain about not getting overtime wages when Canadian citizens don’t get overtime working in agriculture… So basically she wants to be treated better than Canadian citizens? That’s awfully strange.

    She’s complaining about half her monthly wages going to rent and bills– welcome to Canada. That’s what it costs to live here for Canadian citizens. So they want to get paid a wage and have their housing and bills and food covered too? Hey so would I. That’s not reality though.

  4. Wasn’t that young lady on a cruise ship ?she had two weeks left to get back on the cruise ship ,but never went back now she is in Canada complaining .hmn .

      • “Karma comes back at you”, leaving your other job unexpectively without telling your employers is disrepectful enough. Now expecting nice treating on a Canadian farm where you have to be ready at 4am and got to work with pace with few breaks, yup.

        This is the kind of treatment you get when you go on a farm in Canada there’s no time to waste there, you can either leave or continue. I hope thats a good point for your “backward” mind.

      • and it’s UNEXPECTEDLY and not unexpectively…some u all like to use ppl headline name QUICCKKKK to make a point but typing alot of BACKWARD sh”tt

      • Your’ll laughable in your’ll laziness, what I say burn you for some reason and call it backwardness, right. Don’t try to pick up pace and expect glamour to come your.

  5. The problem is he all expect things to be perfect the government have no control over the farm u not not happy u dnt go back. U all can’t expect to get everything for free I no in st lucia people dnt do much but still expects big money most people I no are still doing the job. I came to the UK in the army years ago u no things we go through because we are black it did not brake me now am not in army and am doing very well for my self. nothing in life is easy at all.

    • And that’s the reason why we have to tolerate disrespect. We are not working for free. Slavery was abolished why should we accept working under such conditions? Speak for yourself, it says alot about your worth too. Not because you accepted it to think everyone else have to. We never asked for pay without work, we are working to get paid. Idiot! I’m very sure you wouldn’t have accept a kick, or would you? What in the masa fucking shit is happening in this world?

    • The woman have the right to complain. Why do you think people talk about toxic bosses and even file complaints about such individuals. I can understand if the woman had some type of plan to start a business or paying for school then I’d say she can take that because it’s for a greater cause but u can’t tell me someone who just want to work there probably as a permanent employee should have to endure that kind of racism behavior from a racist cunt.

  6. The bad treatment of Farm Workers have been occurring from years ago. I know of others who experienced the same thing and that’s like over 20 years ago. This is clearly another form of hiring Indentured Servants.
    ….. only it is done in a more professional manner .

  7. Shame on both governments for using all our money to promote tourism and no funding really go into agriculture and growing new crops especially agricultural products that’s in high demand worldwide instead sending our people to become
    Slaves for the Canadian government because Canadians are too lazy to do their own farming

    It does create opportunities for st lucians but I believe we could farm strawberries melons
    And tomatoes and it’s the governments responsibility to look for markets for those products if you’re watching government of state Lucia please do you job and restore agriculture in sr Lucia

    • I am so much in agreement with you on that subject.
      Also – the people hired to go overseas to “pick fruits”, really should know what exactly what the job entails: oranges are overhead picking, strawberries – on your knees!!!

  8. So very true! SLU could be growing and producing ITS OWN agricultural products …. that is what is called “INDUSTRY”!! I’ve always been amazed at Caribbean people travelling to another country to do what they could be doing at home, to better the economy of their homeland.

    • Paid. Chasing after paper with imaginary numbers on it. So I right a 5 on a piece of paper it’s worth $5 but if I take that same piece of paper and add a zero at the end now it’s ten times more?

      Your labour is more valuable than the money you get paid. You go to there country you will never get paid the same as if they had one of their own working there. Your labour is needed to build the countrys we can pay our ownselves better.

      We going to these countries, polluted and poisoned by chemicals while the billionaires are coming here to buy up the land and live here. We need to get our head on straight.

  9. All that for just under EC$3000 a month and half of that goes to living expenses? Not to mention setup costs, whatever you make in half a year can’t support you for more than a few months.

    I still think it’s stupid this programme even exists. What are we? A low wage making factory of human traffickers to supply the foreign labour market?

  10. If it so bad why u don’t come back to your country I know people that come back home because they not satisfied I think u want the people to just drop u in Canada to do your vibe come back if u not happy that’s all case close all the Jamaicans go back

  11. well It shows we in St.Lucia have all the fruits and have our farms herer. We have plenty of land here. Its just hotels thats building here and there. Its time we do our mango factory to make our bottle juice, mangoes falling all over the grounds for years. Yet we import Pinehill from Barbados and Fruta fron trinidad.

    • So very true! SLU could be growing and producing ITS OWN agricultural products …. that is what is called “INDUSTRY”!! I’ve always been amazed at Caribbean people travelling to another country to do what they could be doing at home, to better the economy of their homeland.

  12. This seasonal farm worker program is very problematic, alot of these farmers will pay foreign workers less than the minimum wage and work then overtime without paying overtime premiums. Of course not all of the employers are bad but there needs to be alot more done by the Canadian government to enforce labour laws on these abusers as well as by the st.lucian government to ensure Lucian workers aren’t sent to work for wicked employers.

  13. She looks like she full on attitude and rudeness. I don’t believe her story. No sayin there aren’t cases of ill-treatment. Just look at hat hard face, you trust that? I don’t. let’s be real.

    • Why don’t you show your face?Let us all pass judgement on you just on your looks.Because judging by that ignorant comment you must look like a donkey! Booick!!

    • thats the first thing i thought……how come for since the day this farm thing going on that this is the first complaint i have heard of……i wont judge but we need some hard facts on this……..jus say MY BF BEATING ME OR THAT FELLA IS AN EX CON and u will see how lucians believe every story they hear……a friend of mine has been in this farm thing and i have not heard him complain of such ill treatment….if its that bad why has he up to this year gone back to it…?? maybe women are targeted im not sure……dnt misquote me some of you….i am not saying theres not something going on but if so the people need to stand up in solidarity against this……if its that bad as Jamaica pulling out why go there??? let us be wise enough to do better for ourselves cuz no one will do better for us…

      • You haven’t seen other complaints because you have your head in the sand. Many foreign farm workers were killed by poor living conditions in Canada during the pandemic which only showed us how bad things are in some of these work camps

    • I worked with Latoya a few years ago. She is an industrious being. No task was ever too big for her to tackle. She was always known to go above and beyond the call of duty.

    • I know the individual she is a hard worker and honest I believe what she is saying
      And for years that has been happening but no one spoke up
      St Lucian are afraid to speak up
      Good job
      If more st Lucian speak up instead of bashing one another a lot of things will be corrected

      • I agree with your last statement. It’s hard enough getting us to speak up when things are not right. Or to offer the correct feedback. It doesn’t help to bash someone for airing grievances.

        On another note, the journalist should have been more thoughtful with what the picture conveyed and if it went with the overall narrative of the news story.

        If you’re publishing stories with pictures, for example a famous person just died, when you show pictures of the family you wouldn’t show them smiling. When an athlete loses a championship they show a picture with the athlete looking disappointed. When they win, they show smiling photos. In the above article, they could have downplayed the tattoos and shown someone with a look of determination instead of someone who looks exactly like the kind of person you probably would get into a conflict with and then let go from work.

    • Regardless, it happens…. dont matter how rude someone is you still deserve to be treated like your 2 cent don’t matter in oder words SHIT!!!

  14. If I was in Canada as a Farm worker all of us thats being ill Treated would take Videos and Voice Notes Secretly and Expose these white Slavery Canadians .Their people Very Lazy and dont want to work but they always Treat Black people very bad. I would always walk with a Knife on Me 24Hrs to protect myself .I hope the Minister Responsible address this Seious Wicked Issue

    • 90% of all strawberry farmers in Canada are from India and migrated to Canada. They street everyone poorly, especially women and try to scam you on pay. It’s not the Caucasian farmers

  15. I’m not sure why black people continue to encourage their own to take up these jobs. Didn’t slavery taught us anything? Our foreparents runaway from these kind of treatments. What would you tell them at the time. Don’t runaway take the beating you will be able to feed your children. Slavery were harsher but this kind of treatment is the child of slavery. It is just lighter and plays with your mind. We are saying free our minds from mental slavery but we are encouraging our people, our women to work these jobs all in the name of money. What would our forefathers say if they were to see their women working these jobs. Physical and mental slavery should not be tolerated. Taking your own to work in a foreign land to get these kind of treatment for pennies it is like taking your people from Africa to the white country. Feeling it is like Deja vu.

    • As long as it is honest and clean employment, then it should not matter where you work. The issue is the treatment that these workers are experiencing, and that needs to be address.

  16. I would write an anonymous letter with all the details of the ill treatment on the farm to –

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

    and I would carbon copy the entire news media outlets across the universe, including every leader of the caribbean islands. Abuse should not be tolerated by any government/individual/country. This maltreatment needs to stop and it needs to be exposed immediately. I saw an interview from a Jamaican who basically echoed the same sentiments. In addition the Jamaican stated that the temperature was so cold that he could not feel his fingers…shame shame shame

  17. after their own people lazy and dont want to work for them you getting people to work from another country thats how you treating them?

  18. its bad treatment but its good cause some of yall in saint lucia think its all a bed or roses when people go overseas to work and not to mention the poor work ethic and attitude we have in saint lucia so it good for some of them to go overseas to experience the real life. Some of these government workers that should go and work overseas as well with their lazy attitude.

  19. Well I guess the labor rules don’t apply to all employers in Canada or like usual some of them just think they can get away with whichever way they treat their employees?

  20. Sad! The US and Canada Seasonal Farm Labour Programme has been around as far back as the 1970s. It has helped thousands of Saint Lucians to earn a living, to build their homes and send their children to school. There are bad employers everywhere and it would seem that these workers were placed with one such employer. It is unacceptable that workers sign one contract before leaving and another directly with the employer upon arriving in Canada. This should be investigated and corrected. Canada takes labour laws quite seriously. If investigations prove the allegations, then a formal complaint should be lodged with the relevant department of the Canadian Government.

  21. This is tantamount to slavery by consent. I never had any confidence in these foreign agricultural initiatives. Ask yourself why aren’t t the Canadian natives doing that job themselves? Some might say they are offering financially pressed St Lucians a chance to make some money but is it worth your decency as a Human being? Jamaica is right to pull its people out and St Lucia should do the same without delay. We don’t want our people treated like trash. When will we ever learn to have some self pride? We will always be looked down upon because we put ourselves in such positions to be looked down upon.

    • ……black women and poor people, they can’t get the Mexican’s and South Americans like they use to, so they send for the POOR NEGROS in the islands. Question: Why aren’t they giving that work to Canadians to do ?? Because it’s beneath them and they will never do it. It’s the same thing in the meat processing plants in the US that’s the duttyest work one could ever do beyond nasty. I respect them Mexicans when they go to America they hustle to make their way, sell orange on street corner, cut grass, day labor construction work, they hustle some of Lucians when they go they lazy they don’t do nothing with themselves but milk the system. I have been reading how Jamaica foreign pulling their workers from up there; I don’t blame them you must have some self worth and dignity in this day and age, the ancestors when thru hell and back already we can’t continue that cycle. What I would like to know how much per head does the government get to send Lucians up there ?? What’s the kick back ?? Yellow or Red they never say how much they sell Black People for, and who gets the money and what they do with it. You will never see a Jew or Chiney picking strawberries, apples, or cutting sugar cane only Black People. Well my girl I glad you got back safe, and you can relate the experience to masses so the next certain segments chatting oh go take the opportunity you not doing nothing tell them CHU GO TAKE IT YOURSELF.

  22. Don’t take that shit. The government should contact the Canadians government and let them know that Saint Lucia is a small island but Lucian’s ain’t that hungry.

    Am sorry don’t be a begger. We must have pride and stand up for the citizens. These people, they can’t help them selves always racist and prejudice, and quite frankly jealous of and against black people.

  23. Remember what Virginia Poyote said to you all in an address when you all were leaving. ‘People will envy you all’. Smh. By working on a farm in a foreign country other than yours is to be envied. Really?
    Any ways you find yourself in a predicament that many feared. That is why many were skeptical to go on these farms. I hope they are not all the same and you get a better farm. I’m glad that she shared her story and this was brave of her. Wish her the best.

    • That is really sad. What those persons are experiencing may just be similar to what the student nurses are experiencing emotionally at the department of nursing at SALCC.

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