Good Mexican restaurants in rural Ontario, small-town church services in Spanish, and gridlocked Friday nights with busloads of men wiring money home and crowding into the local grocery store.
These are a few of the visible signs of the growth of Canada’s migrant agricultural worker programs, which are becoming an increasingly permanent fixture of the rural landscape.
“When we talk about the 30,000 migrant workers that come to Canada annually, the majority have been here before,” said the study’s author, Wilfrid Laurier professor Jenna Hennebry. “This is not a one-off. This is people who have spent the better part of their lives, five or 10 or 25 years, coming to Canada to the same communities over and over.”
Of the 600 Mexican and Jamaican farm workers surveyed by Prof. Hennebry, the average worker had spent seven to nine seasons working in Canada. They work long hours, often don’t speak the language and have little opportunity to connect with the communities they’re working to build, according to the study. Less than 1 per cent of those surveyed said they worked alongside Canadians…
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