It is estimated that there is now 70,000 people working under the Temporary Foreign Worker program here in British Columbia with an additional estimated 6,000 labouring under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program. Many of these workers experience exploitative conditions and exposures to a great number of occupational hazards without proper education or training in dealing with them. As such, the BCFED Health and Safety Centre have a designated program to try and empower and protect these most marginalized of workers in our province.
Through the delivery of customized workshops and educational sessions in the workers first language, Migrant Worker participants learn about their legal protections, rights and responsibilities, hazard identification and the workers compensation system. As with all of the Health and Safety Centre’s materials, the workshops are based on the principles of popular education that encourages their participation and taking into account that many participants have likely been out of the formal education system for a longtime and may have literacy barriers in their first languages as well.
The BCFED Health and Safety Centre is proud to deliver these workshops and educational opportunities to hundreds of Migrant Workers every year, but unfortunately we are only scratching the surface of the potential number of workers that we need to be talking to. These workers are often doing very dangerous and dirty work to put food onto our tables, provide services for our families and support our provincial economy in many untold ways. These workers need a stronger voice in health and safety, we all need to work harder to make sure these Migrant Workers are heard and protected on the job. We believe as an organization if you are good enough to work here, you are good enough to live here. And as such all the same laws and protections afforded to Canadian workers need to apply to those ‘guest’ workers.
If you would like to learn more about this program or volunteer to participate please contact the BCFED Health & Safety Centre.