They pick our tomatoes, pack our produce and make the inner workings of Canada’s local food systems possible — and often come here to do work that Canadian citizens won’t. But who are the migrant agricultural workers who travel to Canada for designated periods of time, and how do our country’s temporary work policies treat them?
Min Sook Lee’s documentary profiles a group of women, mostly from Indonesia, who have come to Ontario to work in greenhouses as part of Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Having been charged thousands of dollars in recruiter agent fees to get here, they spend much of their time earning wages to pay that debt and rent on employer-controlled housing. Little is left over to send back to their families.
As Lee describes it, simply by participating in the making of Migrant Dreams these women are defying government and corporate systems that exploit workers whose limited rights benefit employers and domestic agricultural interests. “There are over 100,000 low-wage migrant workers in Canada, many with legitimate complaints about their living and working conditions,” she says. “I hope this film can be part of a critical examination of migrant labour in Canada.”
Find out more about Migrant Dreams and the Temporary Foreign Worker Program
Migrant Health Project co-founder and Wilfrid Laurier University professor Janet McLaughlin on how the plight of migrant farm workers, from dismal living condition to health and safety risk to the constant fear of deportation, has only gotten worse over the years.
From Leamington, Ont., these are the stories of the four main subjects who appear in Min Sook Lee's documentary about migrant work.
Stories about migrant workers in Canada often frame them as either job threats or victims of bad bosses rather than a flawed system, says filmmaker Min Sook Lee. She made these two myths the backbone of her film, Migrant Dreams.
Watch the documentary
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