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Okanagan migrant farm worker advocates not happy with Trudeau’s tour stops

RAMA pens letter to the PM explaining he should have visited migrant farm workers
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau picks some cherries at the Lutz family farm on Hillborn Street in Summerland.(John Arendt - Summerland Review)

The Prime Minister landed in B.C. on Monday, July 18, to kick off a tour of the province starting in the Okanagan with a tour of a children’s day camp, a food processing facility, and a family farm.

While Justin Trudeau wasn’t in the area to answer any questions he was available for photo opportunities and meet and greets with local workers.

However, despite the PM having a conversation with a Summerland farm owner about crop yields affected by weather, others in the agriculture sector weren’t pleased with Trudeau’s choice of tour stops.

Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture (RAMA) penned an open letter to the PM the day after his Okanagan tour to voice its displeasure that Trudeau did not meet with any migrant farm workers.

“Thousands of people come to the Okanagan each year to work in the fruit and wine industry, providing the majority of labour in harvesting and processing the fruit and wine that we all enjoy. Farm workers endure poor living and working conditions, struggle to access services, and face precarity and hardships due to their temporary status. These workers are essential to agriculture, and make important contributions to our communities,” stated the letter.

RAMA hoped Trudeau would meet with the farm workers and understand the issues and challenges they face while working and living in Canada.

“These issues need to be at the forefront of discussions about the agricultural sector in the Okanagan, and across Canada,” said RAMA.

RAMA is looking at the following changes to be implemented which would help to improve some of the issues include:

1. A national standard for farm worker housing that is founded on the needs of farm workers.

2. Support for workers applying for an Open Work Permit for Vulnerable Persons.

3. Open work permits to enable workers’ job mobility like other Canadian workers.

4. Permanent status upon arrival for all migrant workers in Canada.

Trudeau made his way to the coast on Tuesday where he made an announcement on oceans protection and responded to questions from reporters on Bowen Island.

READ MORE: Trudeau tours Okanagan cherry farm, where weather events have affected crop

READ MORE: Beer, pizza, fruit: PM Trudeau does the Okanagan


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Jen Zielinski

About the Author: Jen Zielinski

I graduated from the broadcast journalism program at BCIT. I also hold a bachelor of arts degree in political science and sociology from Thompson Rivers University. I was also a reporter for Castanet and CBC. I am a volunteer with Okanagan Humane Society.
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