Introducing Higher Fines for Employers Withholding Migrant Workers' Passports is Not Enough 

Toronto, Ontario, CANADA

TORONTO, March 24, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- UFCW Canada, the country's leading advocate for agricultural workers, is calling on the Ford Government to implement laws that strengthen the human and labour rights of thousands of migrant agricultural workers in Ontario who make critical contributions to Canada's food supply. 

While UFCW welcomes stiffer penalties for abusive employers and other irresponsible actors, the proposed legislation Working for Workers Act, 2023, is not enough.

If the Ford Government was serious about tackling the shameful treatment of migrant workers in Ontario, it would immediately provide agricultural workers with equal access to the Ontario Labour Relations Act. This is an essential step towards correcting the intolerable power imbalance that exists in heartland of Canada’s food production system.  

There are a number of labour trafficking investigations currently taking place in Ontario. In many of these cases, passports and personal documentation were withheld, and workers were exploited. Some cases date back to 2017. UFCW supported a group of survivors and witnessed the many challenges that workers endure after leaving their abusive employers. Recently more labour cases were exposed to the outrage of Ontarians. 

Getting labour trafficking cases to trial can take several years. During this time, survivors are left to fend for themselves with almost non-provincial assistance. Without the support of advocates, these cases would be abandoned. 

During these trials, survivors are re-victimized. The process is long and painful. The system does not recognize its impact on the victim. Reliving the experience is difficult and emotionally taxing for the survivors. More government supports for victims are urgently needed.

The Ford Government can also support migrant agricultural workers by making the Provincial Nominee Program more accessible and facilitating efforts by migrant agricultural workers to obtain Permanent Residence. This measure would give workers the stability they need to further empower themselves and to collectively confront abusive employers. 

UFCW Canada (the United Food and Commercial Workers Union) represents more than 250,000 members across Canada working in every sector of the food industry from field to table. For 30 years, UFCW Canada has been the leading voice and advocate for domestic and migrant agricultural workers. 


Santiago Escobar, National Representative
UFCW Canada
(905) 351-4082