From insufficient entry to bogs to cramped residing situations, a brand new report containing testimony from migrant staff in Canada paints a grim image of their housing situations.
“We reside in situations of recent slavery,” stated a migrant employee in one of many nameless testimonies included within the report launched Thursday by the Migrant Rights Community and the Meals & Farmworkers Working Group.
“We do not have a rest room in the home. We’ve got to make use of a transportable bathroom or pee in a bottle outdoors. No web or tv. No dryer or washer … It feels worse than being in jail.”
The report, based mostly on suggestions from 453 staff and a devoted survey of 330 of them, was ready in response to necessary employer-provided lodging proposed by the federal authorities.
The federal government began consultations with stakeholders final yr to ascertain a lockdown on employer-provided lodging for the momentary overseas employee program.
Along with the testimony, the report consists of surveys and photographs, requires change for staff, and requires “dignified” residing for all. It didn’t identify the businesses the employees have been hiring or the place they have been positioned within the nation.
The report was pushed by considerations in regards to the remedy of overseas momentary staff through the pandemic. 1000’s of them contracted COVID-19 in 2020, with the Windsor-Essex County Well being Unit repeatedly mentioning that coexistence is a big think about its unfold.
Tight situations, no restricted privateness
One assertion within the report describes as much as 60 individuals who share a front room with rest room and kitchen.
Nonetheless, the report says that round 44 p.c of the time, 5 to 10 individuals shared a home.
Photographs within the doc present bunk beds separated by curtains, soiled kitchens and bogs. One picture reveals a ceiling falling aside. The report would not specify the place precisely these photographs have been taken, though a consultant from the Migrant Staff Alliance for Change, one of many teams concerned within the report, says most have been taken in Ontario and British Columbia. CBC has not independently verified the photographs.
The dearth of privateness is without doubt one of the considerations highlighted within the report.
“We’re very shut collectively and the bunk beds are in poor situation and we can’t relaxation effectively,” stated a migrant employee in one other nameless testimony.
The identical employee described being unable to go away the farm freely or have guests, and a few wished their households may come too. Some staff come to Canada for eight months a yr, whereas others can keep for 2 or extra years straight, in keeping with the report.
Need “respect and dignity”
The report additionally says that nearly half of all respondents named house as a prime precedence. Many would love house to have time to themselves, extra space to retailer their private belongings and separate altering rooms.
One other testimony states: “We don’t ask for luxurious in the home, solely a good room through which we will spend an eight-month work stick with respect and dignity.”
A 3rd of these questioned requested for a greater high quality of life, clear consuming water, air-con and scorching water for showering.
“We shouldn’t be crammed right into a small house and compelled to work in harmful situations and fall sufferer to standing up for our rights,” stated one employee in an nameless testimony.
My members are examined and audited in lots of, some ways by many various individuals and locations. … I am fairly positive my membership did not expertise these points. “– Joe Sbrocchi, GM of the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers
“We as farm staff ought to really feel at residence right here and never like in jail.”
The report additionally raised considerations in regards to the management of staff by employers and talked about monitoring and management of their free motion.
Joe Sbrocchi, common supervisor of Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG), which represents over 220 greenhouse growers, has considerations in regards to the report.
“I do not know if one thing is justified,” he stated.
“On our behalf, I’ll inform you that my members are being screened and audited in lots of, some ways by many various individuals and locations,” he stated, citing audits by the Well being Division, Hearth Division, Development Division, Labor and Social Companies Canada and the Ontario Division of Labor.
“I can solely communicate for my members and I’m fairly positive my membership has not encountered these points.”
Package Andres, an organizer of the Migrant Staff Alliance for Change, stated it was not about particular person unhealthy farms, however a couple of “unhealthy system”.
The employees know, Andres says, that the answer to issues like overcrowding is a nationwide housing normal.
“In order that they know, it doesn’t matter what farm they’re despatched to throughout the nation, they know that they are going to arrive in secure and dignified lodging that displays their humanity. And these requirements should even be enforceable, ”stated Andres.
Along with calling for nationwide requirements for respectable housing, the Migrant Rights Community continues to name for full and everlasting immigration standing for all migrant staff.
“That’s the solely answer,” stated Andres.
“In the meanwhile, as a consequence of their momentary standing, staff are unable to talk up if there are issues at work or at residence of their employer-controlled residence. In the event that they communicate out, they’re threatened with dismissal. “Homelessness and deportation and being faraway from this system for an indefinite time frame.”
CBC has requested the federal authorities for a remark, however has not but obtained any suggestions.