“Migrant worker program called ‘worse than slavery’ after injured participants sent home without treatment: Cousin of Jamaican man who died from workplace injury says when workers get ill ‘they just dispose of them’ ” / Rosa Marchitelli (CBC News, May 16, 2016)
The family of migrant farm worker, Sheldon McKenzie, who died several months after a severe head injury, says there was pressure from his Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) liaison officer to have him return to Jamaica.
One of the almost 30,000 farm workers who come to Canada annually through the Program, he lost his work visa when no longer able to work and no longer qualified for health-care coverage. A 2014 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on the medical repatriation of migrant workers in Ontario reported that between 2001 and 2011, 787 migrant farm workers in Ontario were sent home for reasons of injury or illness, with only one in 50 leaving willingly.
The SAWP is one of the Temporary Foreign Worker programs currently under review by the federal government’s Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities. (See Coalition for Migrant Workers’ Rights Canada open letter on the Review.)