Seasonal Farmworkers: Do you know your rights?

If you’re a seasonal migrant farmworker in Canada, it can be difficult and confusing to learn about your rights. This guide will help you and if you have any questions about your rights, send a WhatsApp message to 905-324-2840 with your issue and location.

As you read through this guide, you may see that you don’t have as many rights as you were promised. Farmworkers are excluded from many basic labour rights that workers in Canada have fought for and won. It’s not fair! Everybody deserves equal rights, fair treatment & wages, and safer workplaces. That’s why farmworkers like you are uniting together with other migrant workers to take action and win a better life for you and your family!

What are your rights and where can you find them?

For seasonal agricultural workers, there are 3 main places where you can read about your rights:

  1. Your contract (Federal)
  2. Labour laws (provincial)
  3. Housing guidelines (provincial + municipal)

Your contract gives you rights

If you came to Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program through your home country’s Ministry of Labour, you have a contract that both you and your employer have signed. It’s your right to know what’s in your contract and to have your own copy. If you don’t have a copy of your contract, let us know. [Tap this link to view an online version.]

Here are some of your rights according to your contract:

  1. Clean, adequate living conditions (Section 2, Part A, #1);
  2. Access to adequate washing machines; or free transportation to a laundry facility (Section 2, Part A, #2);
  3. 1 meal break of at least 30 minutes after 5 consecutive hours of work, and 2 rest periods (10 mins each) in mid-morning and mid-afternoon (Section 2, Part C, #13);
  4. 1 day of rest after working 6 days in a row; if not possible, your boss must ask your permission to delay your day off to a later date (Section 2, Part C, #14);
  5. After working for the same boss for 5 years in a row, you are entitled to a recognition payment of $4.22/week for a maximum of $135, payable at the end of your contract (Section 3, #4);
  6. Health coverage (Section 6);
  7. Safety training and protective equipment at no cost to you (Section 9, #5);
  8. Free transportation to do your shopping once per week (Section 9, #7).

Labour laws give you rights

Canada has 10 provinces and 3 territories. Workers on the seasonal farmwork program mainly work in the provinces of BC, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia. The Canadian government is responsible for things like your work permit, contract, and other immigration-related matters, and the provincial government in the province where you work determines things like your labour rights. That means your rights may be different depending on what province you work in.

Farmworkers are generally excluded from basic labour standards – including the right to overtime pay and holidays & holiday pay. In Ontario, farmworkers are excluded from maximum hours of work and time off in between shifts. This is unacceptable! Reach out to us today to learn how farmworkers like you are pushing back against unfair labour laws.

Here are 3 of your rights under provincial labour law (Ontario):

  1. The right to work free from harassment and abuse (from your boss, supervisor, or coworkers);
  2. The right to regular payment of wages;
  3. The right to equal pay for equal work (your boss cannot discriminate against you and pay you less than somebody else on the farm for doing the same work)

[Tap this link to read more from the Ontario Ministry of Labour website]

If you are being treated unfairly at work or not being paid properly, message us on WhatsApp at 905-324-2840 for support.

Housing Guidelines Give You Rights

Like the labour laws, housing guidelines may be different depending on which province you live in and work. Your contract guarantees you the right to “clean, adequate living conditions”, and the housing guidelines go into more detail about what the government thinks that means.

These housing guidelines are used by the Public Health department in your area to inspect the bunkhouse and pass it. If you’re not sure where to find the housing guidelines, message us on WhatsApp with your postal code (a combination of letters and numbers that will be on your paystub or workplace address).

Using Ontario guidelines as an example, here are some of your rights:

  1. Safe, clean housing free from rodents;
  2. Clean blankets, sheets and pillow cases must be provided by your boss;
  3. Safe water supply for drinking, washing, and cooking;
  4. Employer must provide kitchenware (utensils, plates, bowls, etc), cookware (pots & pans), and cooking utensils

[Tap this link to view an online version of the housing guidelines in Ontario.]

Send us a message on WhatsApp at 905-324-2840 and we can walk through the checklist with you, or visit the farm at your request.

You Deserve More, Let’s Unite to Win!

As you can see, these options are not good enough. You deserve the power to protect yourself and fight for equal rights. That’s why migrant farmworkers like you and other migrant workers are uniting together to fight for permanent resident status for all. Without permanent status, the boss can threaten you with being fired, losing your housing, getting sent home, and being blacklisted from the farmwork program. Enough is enough!

On September 17, migrants and our supporters are taking to the streets across Canada to win permanent status for all, including people without papers. Invite your friends and family in Canada to take action with us by sending them this link: United we are stronger!