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Canada's foreign worker programme labled breeding ground for modern slavery.

Tomoya Obokata, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery

By Prince Moore

 

A new report from the United Nations says Canada's temporary foreign worker program is a breeding ground for contemporary forms of slavery.

Tomoya Obokata, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery,  says workers are being exploited, dealing with excessive working hours, less than minimum wage, and no access to health or social care as well as physical and sexual violence.

The scathing United Nations report on the Canadian foreign worker programme comes after Jamaican farm workers in Ontario Canada complained about mistreatment under the programme.

In an interview with CBC News Mr Obokata said his visit to Canadian farm workers showed many instances of forced labour.

He said he heard accounts of exploitation and abuse from migrant workers during a two week fact finding mission to Canada.

Mr Obokata said close to 100 workers have complained about a range of issues on the farm work programme.

Mr Obokata reports that in many cases workers are unaware of their rights.

The report says laws in place to protect seasonal farm workers in Canada are ineffective due to a lack of enforcement, and that labour inspections are pre-announced which gives employers enough time prepare for visits. 
 
The UN special rapporteur says the level of control by employers over the workers amounts to slavery.
 
A fact-finding team appointed by Jamaica’s Ministry of Labour last year to investigate the conditions of Jamaican Farm Workers in Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme, had reported that the workers interviewed were satisfied with the working and living conditions on the farms.


But the report received significant push-back, with some workers contending that it was not a true representation of the facts.

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