Friday, October 9, 2009

Hundreds of Philippine temporary workers pick tomatoes in southern Ontario

Dear IMA-Canada members and friends,

On Sunday, October 4, 2009, Migrante Ontario spokesperson Maru Maesa and myself went to Southern Ontario. We drove west from Toronto for about four hours to Kingsville, a small town southeast of Windsor, Ontario. Going through a long road by the fields the drive felt longer than it was. Upon entering the town of Leamington, the town before Kingsville, we started seeing rows of long tent-like structures wrapped in what seems to be tarpaulin. These greenhouses looked more like something out of a sci-fi movie. (In photo: Maru Maesa (centre - 2nd row) & Marco Luciano (3rd from right) with new friends in Kingsville.)

I was invited by a friend to attend a health fair for migrants. He is with Justicia 4 Migrant Workers, an organization that organizes Mexican and Carribean agricultural workers. After setting up our table, farmworkers started coming in. Surprisingly there are close to 40 Filipino farmworkers that came to that event.

Most of these workers came directly from the Philippines. A lot of them came from the northern provinces like Baguio, Ifugao, Ilocos Norte. There were some that came through Vancouver. They were recruited to work as carpenters and construction workers for the Olympics. When they get to Vancouver, there were no jobs for them and that their agency "shipped them" to Southern Ontario. During "off season" they work four days a week and four hours per day (@ 9.70 per hour). They live in apartments outside the farm. One workers said that she along with 8 of her co-workers live in one bedroom apartment. She said that most of the workers live in similar conditions.

What's interesting to know is that there are more than 300 of them in the Leamington / Kingsville area working in different privately-owned farms. One farm in particular employs 100 Filipino farmworkers. One worker said that he is expecting his brother in law to come from the Philippines sometime in the spring of 2010 along with another 200 farmworkers.

Marco Luciano
Migrante Ontario

You are invited to view Migrante's photo album:
Farm Visit, Kingsville, Ontario - Oct 4, 2009

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