New rules for migrant workers and local farmers mean big changes, says activist

Close to 100,000 migrant workers from the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America come to Canada each year to work in the agri-food industry.

Hundreds come to Northumberland to help, especially on the fruit and vegetable farms. Many apple growers will tell you, it is an essential part of their business.

But with travel bans and concerns over the spread of COVID-19, there were big questions marks about what was going to happen this spring. Farmers lobbied hard and got exemptions, along with a financial aid package. So, these workers were given a choice to stay home with their families or come and earn money working on farms. For some, it is not really a choice since this money is more than they would ever make at home.

Then, there are the new public health rules farmers must meet to ensure the safe working conditions for these migrant workers.

Physical distancing, quarantine measures, and increased health inspections are only a few of the new realities. To tell us more about these changes and the arrival of the first wave of migrant workers to Northumberland, I did an online interview with Daniel Quesada, a long-time local advocate for migrant workers and community outreach officer with Horizons of Friendship. Here is that conversation.

Originally aired: April 24, 2020

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