Mexican consulate in Leamington approves of ban on foreign workers coming to Canada
WINDSOR, ONT. -- The Mexican consolate in Leamington supports his country’s decision to block residents from coming to Canada through the temporary foreign worker program.
“Suddenly Leamington migrant workers and everything are becoming front page in many media, here in Canada, back in Mexico and there has created an uproar about what happened,” says consul Alberto Bernal.
Two Mexican migrant workers, aged 31 and 24, have died from COVID-19 they acquired in Essex County.
Bernal says there are already 11,000 Mexicans working in Canada and of all the foreign workers in this country, Mexico sends the most people here to work in any given year.
In 2019, for instance, he says 26,000 Mexican workers in Canada, 3,000 in Essex County alone.
Bernal participated in a virtual news conference held Tuesday by the Windsor Essex County Health Unit.
It also included officials from the greenhouse sector, municipal leaders, the CEO of Erie Shores Healthcare, and Ontario’s Ministries of Agriculture and Labour.
Justine Taylor with the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers (OGVG) doesn’t think greenhouses will be impacted by the loss of Mexican workers, because she says most already have their workforce in place.
“But many field farmers have yet to receive the majority of their workforce,” says Taylor. “They tend to receive that workforce when the harvest nearing so it could have a very significant effect on field farmers.”
Taylor was asked her position on the idea of mandatory testing of migrant workers, currently being pushed by Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.
“Employees here under the temporary foreign worker program do enjoy the same rights and freedoms as all Canadians, and at this point, testing has not been made mandatory for any other groups or individuals,” says Taylor.
Regardless, Jules Arntz-Gray with Ontario’s Ministry of Labour doesn’t believe mandatory testing will solve the current crisis and advise employers to assume all workers have COVID-19.
“Testing is only ever a point in time, so you know, you get tested today, but then, what happens tomorrow? or the next day?” says Arntz-Gray.
Arntz-Gray says the ministry has conducted 88 “field visits” to farms in Ontario, to check everything from living conditions to physical distancing measures and sanitization.
Of that, more than 60 visits were done in Essex County alone and 15 were based on complaints they received from workers.