A Mexican farm worker in Canada. A Mexican farm worker in Canada.

Canadian farm jobs: only men need apply

But that will change with new agreement, says union

Canadian farmers, government officials and presumably Mexican farm workers have been bullish about a program that links the latter with jobs up north. But it turns out that only male farm workers have been the ones celebrating the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program.

An official with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Canada says that for decades farmers have been able to specify the gender of the workers they wish to hire.

Andrea Galvez said the union complained about the “blatant discrimination” two years ago. She said that although many Mexican women would like to work as well, females made up only 4% of those workers last year.

However, an agreement signed last month will prohibit Canadian employers from requesting workers by gender. Galvez told a CBC Radio program yesterday the change will be phased in over five years.

“They will no longer have the right to discriminate against women,” a way of thinking that changed years ago in other industries, she said.

“We cannot allow a single sector, the agricultural sector, to live under very, very old standards,” said Galvez.

Although the CBC News report did not specify who signed the agreement, it said Mexican authorities will be taking steps to make sure more women can be included.

The program has been the subject of some criticism for substandard housing conditions offered to the workers, inadequate health care and discriminatory pay. Justice for Migrant Workers, based in Mexico City, Toronto and Vancouver, says migratory workers are vulnerable to exploitation because of language barriers, racism, isolation in rural areas and other issues.

At least 20,000 Mexican laborers will spend the maximum eight months working on Canadian farms this year.

Source: CBC News (en)

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