Migrant Workers Focus on New Research Project

iHeart Radio

Kurlis Mati

A University of Windsor sociology professor is taking part in a research project aimed at improving the lives of migrant farm workers in Canada.

Glynis George is examining supports for guest workers to identify ways to close gaps in service.

It's part of a larger project also involving researchers from the Western University working across Southwestern Ontario in Niagara, Haldimand-Norfolk, and Windsor-Essex - the regions with the highest concentration of migrant farm workers in the province.

George says they found there were a lack of many services for migrant farm workers before COVID-19.

"COVID-19 necessitated a much more coordinated response at the community level in terms of public health and it required a partnership with the government at several levels that shined a light on the need for services that allow workers to access the services they are supposed to be able to have." says George.  

She says the research found can help improve the lives of migrant farm workers.

"We are going to be interviewing migrant farm workers in all three areas to hear what they need," she says. "It's really hard to reach a migrant worker, it's a real thrust of the project to get out there, do outreach and also interview service providers so we can get some feedback on what has worked and what is missing."

George says they found migrant farm workers mental and physical health have been impacted under these working conditions. 

"It's really difficult to live far away from your family when your family members are not permitted to live here and the workers are a bit afraid of being deported so the issues that some of us experiences like anxiety and loneliness are heightened and intensified when you are living in these type of circumstances."

The Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, one of several streams that bring temporary workers to Canadian farms brings about 60,000 workers to Canada each year including over 8,000 to Windsor-Essex.

The project intends to interview 200 workers and service providers, over the next three years.