Listening to migrant workers: should Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program be abolished?
Leigh Binford’s essay cuts to the core of how Canada’s migrant agricultural worker program undermines rights, freedom, and dignity for racialized migrants from the Global South while boosting a horticultural industry that continues to consolidate. By reviewing research on the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP), including his own, Binford underscores three features of the SAWP that escalate expectations of worker productivity and growers’ disproportionate power over workers. Specifically, he draws attention to SAWP workers’ deportability, barriers faced by sending-country officials in defending the rights of fellow nationals in Canada, and what he calls a “dual frame of reference.” Binford uses the dual frame of reference to explain why SAWP workers generally put up with the wages and working conditions on offer: they evaluate Canadian farm jobs against widespread poverty and grim employment options in their countries of origin.
After establishing a trenchant...
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