Modern Day Slavery worsens
Noé Arteaga’s employers fired and deported him to Guatemala after he stood up for his rights as a migrant worker in Canada. Temporary foreign workers come to Canada on a visa with their employer’s name on it. They cannot change employers if a problem arises. Workers are also often dependent on their employers for transportation, housing and food. Arteaga and his 70 colleagues worked on a tomato farm in Quebec. One day in the summer of 2008 a worker became sick. This worker was mentally and physically ill and needed urgent medical attention. He was too sick to work and his supervisors kept the man on a bus while everyone else was working in the fields. Arteaga organized a mini-strike. He told his employers that he and a group of men would not work until they took the man to a hospital. The man went to the hospital but Arteaga’s employers were angry, he said. A few weeks later Arteaga refused to work on a day that he was supposed to have off. The next day the consulate called and told him that he lost his job and had to go home. Within 12 hours he was at the airport. “I presented a little problem and they cut me just like that. This is why migrant workers are so beneficial to farmers,” Arteaga said. “Even if they get paid the same as Canadians they are too scared to say anything and if they do, they’re gone.” He did not get severance pay and had to pay for his flight home. Arteaga returned to Canada under refugee status. He was the first Guatemalan migrant worker to file a claim against his employers in Quebec. More than 300,000 temporary foreign workers were in Canada in 2011. This number tripled since the year 2000, according to a report by the Metcalf Foundation called “Made in Canada.” Temporary workers have come to Canada to work in an array of industries. Fourteen percent of all workers came from the Philippines. The majority were women working as nannies. The men, chiefly those from Central America, most often worked in agriculture, according to data from the 2006 census. Few laws assist these workers and they are often unaware of their rights, said Stan Raper, the national coordinator for Agricultural Workers Alliance. Read more..