Justicia for Migrant Workers Concerned about Profiling of Migrant Workers with Swin Flu Epidemic

Posted by admin on Apr 29th, 2009

Tuesday April 29, 2009 For Immediate Release

Justicia (Justice) for Migrant Workers (J4MW) is gravely concerned about the potential backlash that Guatemalan and Mexican migrant workers may face as a result of the swine flu epidemic. J4MW questions the rise in xenophobic discourse from both politicians and the mainstream media. We are urging people to address the issues related to the epidemic but not to unfairly attack those workers who are employed annually in Canada under the auspices of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) and the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP).

Furthermore, J4MW urges Federal and Provincial officials to ensure that migrant workers are not specifically targeted. J4MW is concerned that a double standard is being implemented through the differential treatment of the thousands of migrant workers employed in Canada versus the tens of thousands of permanent residents who travel to and from Mexico annually. The exclusive targeting of migrant workers constitutes the racial profiling of specific communities.

Learning from the experience of the SARS crisis, Asian Canadian community activists were instrumental in organizing in order to counter attacks and discrimination against their community. We urge our communities to be vigilant of racial profiling and to treat all people with respect and dignity when dealing with public health concerns. We are also calling for steps to be taken to lessen the sense of public hysteria that seems to be engulfing our communities. The current response to this epidemic is only replicating the kind of discrimination and harm experienced by the Asian Canadian community during SARS.

J4MW encourages public health officers, elected officials, and others to refocus their efforts to address, not only the health of migrant workers when they arrive in Canada, but also the pervasive health and safety issues raised by workers that regularly go unattended to while they are living and working in Canada. These issues include work related injuries, the use of chemicals in the fields, over-crowded housing conditions, and poor field sanitation, among other violations of health and safety standards.

Justicia for Migrant Workers in collaboration with allied organizations such as the Industrial Accident Victims Group of Ontario (IAVGO), will undertake the following measures to ensure the welfare of migrant workers in Canada:

* Make available a toll-free bilingual telephone number (funded by Law Foundation of Ontario) in case of workplace injuries, discrimination or other work related concerns. The English number is 1-877-230-6311 and for service in Spanish 1-866-521 8535 (in Ontario most accidents and many illnesses that workers experience are considered workplace injuries for the purpose of Workers Compensation.)

* Develop materials for workers on how to respond to health concerns and accessing their rights, benefits and entitlements.

* Coordinate with local community organizations to support public health issues articulated by migrant workers.

* Connect migrant workers to resources in their local communities.

* Conduct workshops and consultations with workers to develop a workers-based action plan to counter perceived threats from members of local communities.

*Coordinate efforts with other community and ethno-racial organizations to combat stereotypes and

*Closely monitor abuses and forms of harassments that might be directed at all migrant workers (documented and undocumented.)

For more information please contact Chris Ramsaroop, (647) 834 – 4932, chrisramsaroop@gmail.com, or j4mw@justicia4migrantworkers.org


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