BC Agriculture Council and the Western Agriculture Labour Initiative are preparing to survey temporary foreign workers this summer in an effort to understand how employers can improve workers’ experience and reduce complaints.
“The goal of the work is to collect anonymous information directly from workers on their experience in BC,” a bulletin circulated to fruit growers this week says. “At the end of the project, BCAC will prepare a summary report highlighting best practices and ideas to implement on farms.”
A webinar sharing preliminary perspectives from workers and gathering input from employers on the survey can help them takes place June 21.
The survey comes on the heels of a Jamaican government report released in April praising the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program following allegations of “systematic slave-like conditions” on participating farms.
A fact-finding mission found this was not the case, noting that most workers from Jamaica were proud to participate.
“The overall assessment of the conditions of the Jamaican farm workers were described as ‘good,’” the report states. “However, the team discovered pockets of poor labour and industrial relations conditions, particularly in provinces outside of Ontario.”
This includes BC, where worker satisfaction was particularly low.
Summarizing the report’s findings in Jamaica’s House of Representatives, Jamaica Labour and Social Security Minister Karl Samuda said that worker liaison services in Ontario enjoyed a 74.4% satisfaction rate versus a 6.6% negative rating.
However, only 11.3% were satisfied in British Columbia, which had a 38.7% negative rating.
“That has to be addressed and we have already taken steps to deal with that,” Samuda said.