In the agricultural industry, temporary foreign workers are crucial. Their help is essential in producing a variety of crops here in Ontario, but furthermore across North America.
Our migrant workers begin to arrive in April and continue to come in segments into July. Some leave in October, others in November and even December depending on the type of year and the crops involved. These men spend months away from their families, friends and loved ones and come here to work to provide for and support their families.
I think it is worth acknowledging that general reception towards migrant workers from the public this year is disheartening. A lot of workers are reporting racism and fear from the public because of COVID-19 and the outbreak that occurred on a farm here in Ontario. I can understand feelings of fear and uncertainty, but discrimination and bullying is completely unacceptable.
I wanted to address this issue in this post because I want to encourage people to refrain from judging or making assumptions about migrant workers when they are spotted off of the farm they’re working on and for. The disapproval these workers are encountering when they do leave the farm to get groceries, for example, is causing many of them to feel threatened and unsafe. These men are people, just like you and I, and considering everything they sacrifice to work here and help our farmers, they deserve better.
We need to work together to ensure these workers feel welcome and comfortable while they stay here with us. Offer them a smile the next time you see them as opposed to a harsh facial expression and help to make their time here more enjoyable. These workers mean so much to farmers and farm families, as well as everyone involved in the agricultural industry, and as a society, we need to do better, collectively.