Migrant workers picking strawberriesA forum April 26 at the University of Windsor will discuss ways to improve the health of migrant farm workers.

Forum to consider health of migrant farm workers

Today — Monday, April 22 — is the final day to register for the Migrant Farm Worker Health Forum, to be held in Windsor Hall on Friday, April 26.

Nearly 40,000 migrant farmworkers come to Canada each year to work in the agriculture industry, including 6-8,000 in Essex County.

Organized by the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers in partnership with the University of Windsor, Friday’s forum will explore a theme of “From barriers to bridges: collaborating to improve the health of migrant farm workers.”

UWindsor professors Kathryn Edmunds and Tanya Basok serve on the planning committee.

“Temporary agricultural workers are often geographically and socially isolated, and it can be easy to overlook their significant contributions to our region, as well as the challenges and barriers they face,” says Dr. Edmunds, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Nursing. “This conference is an important opportunity to learn about current research, community partnerships, and innovative programs regarding the health of temporary agricultural workers living in our communities.”

Dr. Basok, a professor in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology, notes that Canada wins international praise for its administration of agricultural migrant worker programs, particularly the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program, but the reality is often different from their idealized portrayals.

“Researchers and activists have documented numerous problems that these workers encounter and called for policy changes,” she says. “By bringing together researchers, practitioners, growers, and activists, the forum will help in identifying the major issues and ways to move forward in an equitable fashion that will allow farms to remain competitive while being respectful of the migrant farm workers’ rights.”

Windsor Hall, home to the University’s social work program, is located at 167 Ferry St. Find a full conference program as well as registration details on the forum website.