Farm Workers

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Gabriel Flores was fired by his bosses for speaking up for his rights. But he fought back. With support from his co-workers, he went to court and won. Now he’s organizing for justice for all farm workers.

Know Your Rights

Housing Rights
My boss says we can’t leave the bunkhouse or farm, is this true?

You and your coworkers have the right to move freely. Your boss does not have the right to restrict your movement in any way. If your boss is using threats, forcing you to sign documents, or physically blocking you from leaving - this is abuse!

Watch this video to learn more about your right to free movement in Canada: https://youtu.be/uD1QqPDUyHs

My housing isn’t safe, what can I do about it?

Currently there are no national standards for farmworker housing, which means that bunkhouses may be different depending on where you work. And because of your temporary status in Canada, speaking up about housing conditions can be risky. This isn't fair! Everybody deserves housing that is clean, safe, and dignified. This is why farmworkers like you are organizing to win permanent status for all.

In the meantime, you have rights and options. Take pictures and videos to document your housing conditions and meet with coworkers you trust to talk about what you want to do together. Contact us to talk about next steps.

Immigrant Rights
How can I get Permanent Resident status in Canada?

Currently the Canadian government only allows farmworkers in certain industries to apply for permanent resident (PR) status. Watch this video to learn if you are eligible:

If you do not qualify, you are not alone! The requirements for PR are too strict and leave most farmworkers out. This is not fair! PR means equal rights, the power to protect ourselves and leave bad jobs, and the ability to be together with our families. Everybody deserves these things.

Farmworkers like you are uniting together to push the Canadian government to give permanent status for all. Want to join the movement for status for all? Contact us to learn how.

How can I get an open work permit?

Right now the Canadian government only gives temporary open work permits to farmworkers who can prove that they are experiencing abuse at their current workplace, or are at risk of abuse. If you are being abused or at risk of being abused at work and want to apply for this permit, contact us for support.

To learn more about the Open Work Permit for Vulnerable Workers, check out our factsheet here: migrantworkersalliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/OWP-VW-Factsheet.pdf

Everybody deserves the freedom to choose where they work and live free from abuse. This is why farmworkers like you are organizing together to win permanent status for all!

How can I bring my family?

Because migrant farm workers don’t have permanent status, families are being kept apart. Very few workers are able to meet the current requirements to get permanent residency. That is why migrant workers across Canada are demanding status for all now so we can be with our families.

Rights at Work
Can our boss force us to take the vaccine?

Vaccines are currently not mandatory for farmworkers - it's your choice. Nobody can force you to take the vaccine.

Watch this video to learn more about your rights regarding COVID-19 vaccination: youtube.com/watch?v=bp-s2zGbqYc

If you were pressured to get vaccinated, you're not alone! Fill out this private and confidential form to share your story: https://forms.gle/1xAhk9ir7Ubmv7g49

What are my rights during COVID-19 quarantine?

Your employer is required to pay your wages and ensure your wellbeing while you are in quarantine. Watch this video to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AVlVMdYmv5g

What is my minimum wage?

The wage for farm workers depends on the province or territory where you are employed. You may be paid the minimum wage of your province, or the rate set by the Federal government every year for workers like you. 

If you are required to move from one work site to another during work hours you should be paid for travel time.

For all provinces/territories except British Columbia, when you are paid by piecework, the rate must be enough that you are able to earn at least the minimum wage  for every hour that you worked.

In British Columbia, when you are paid by piecework, the employer should pay you the rate approved in the "Minimum Piece Rates - Hand harvested crops". You must be paid at least the minimum wage as set out in the regulations. If you are not employed on a piece work basis, you are entitled to the hourly minimum wage as set by the province.

We deserve decent wages and working conditions, and the same rights as other workers. That is why we are coming together to demand better for migrant farm workers and permanent resident status for all. Join us! 

Can the boss take deductions from my wages?

If you are in the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP), your contract allows the boss to take these deductions: 

  • $2.36/working day for utility costs (water, electricity, etc.)
  • Up to $5.45/working day to your home country’s government. This does not apply to workers from Mexico.
  • 10% of your gross pay each pay period to pay for up to 50% of air travel cost.
  • $10/day if your boss provides you with reasonable and proper meals.

These deductions are money that should be going to support your families back home - paying for school fees, medical bills, and putting food on your family’s table. It’s not fair that Canadians who do the same work as you are able to bring home a full paycheque while you are stuck paying additional deductions. You and your coworkers deserve to be paid equally for the work you do, and this is only possible with full & permanent status for all. Are you ready to fight for it?

How can I transfer to another farm?

If you are in your home country, transfer requests can be made through your Ministry of Labour. If you want to request a transfer while you’re in Canada, you must go through your liaison officer. Unfortunately, any transfer requests made in Canada must be approved by your current employer. This is not fair and gives too much power to employers. You deserve the right to choose where you work!

Am I eligible for Employment Insurance benefits?

There are a number of Employment Insurance (EI) benefits - including sickness/injury, parental, and caregiving. All require you to be unable to work and to have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN). Because of your temporary status, your SIN expires along with your work permit, so you may not be eligible for EI depending on the length of your contract. Most benefits require you to be in Canada and not working to qualify.

Click the link to learn more about available EI benefits and requirements: canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei.html

If you don't qualify, you're not alone! Contact us about how you can connect with other migrant workers who are fighting to win access to the benefits you deserve.

Where can I complain if the liaison is not helping?

There are limited options to make official complaints safely. Depending on the issue, you may be able to file complaints anonymously. We can support you to raise your concerns in other ways, and by joining with other workers to make change. Contact us to discuss your options.

Can you help me find a job? I wasn’t called back this year.

Current laws make it too easy for employers to leave us without work. You are not alone! There are many other workers in the same situation who shared their story with us. Fill out this private and confidential form: https://forms.gle/fnSSbF9HTX6dYkSY9

We are not a job placement agency, we are a migrant worker rights organization led by migrants. Together we're working to change the laws so that nobody is treated like you were! If you want to make a complaint about your previous boss, let us know. We can connect you with other workers like you who are taking action together to win more rights.