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Project to be expanded in the states of Mexico and Puebla in 2010

Partner Organizations:

Carranza LLP

Martínez Law Criminal Defense

& Facebook Page

RED Legal

Centro de Apoyo al Trabajador, Mexico

Dignidad Obrera Agricola Migrante

IAVGO, Toronto

NO One is Illegal-Toronto

Workers' Action Centre, Toronto

Last Website Update: July 5, 2012

Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) is a volunteer driven collective committed to organizing with and for migrant farm workers (irrespective of status), their families and social movements in respective countries of origin.

As an autonomous grass-roots community group, we see ourselves as part of the radicalization of the existing labour movement and fully support workers, principally racialized and excluded migrant workers, in taking leadership in their own struggle as Canada shifts toward controlled labour migration to subsidize its economy.

Justicia/Justice for Migrant Workers” is the recipient of the following awards:

ACLCO's (Association of Community Legal Clinics of Ontario) Community Champion Award (2011)


the JS Woodworth Award, March 21, 2011: "For Justicia for Migrant Workers' outstanding commitment to advancing the rights of visible minorities and immigrants, and eliminating racial discrimination"




J4MW warns Federal Government that its' actions are repeating racist past

(April 28, 2014 - Toronto) Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) a migrant workers advocacy group is raising concerns that the recent moratorium against the restaurant industry will impact tens of thousands of migrant workers. While the Federal government has responded to abuse of the Temporary Foreign Worker (TFW) program by employers, no consideration was given to the effects the moratorium will have on migrant workers, including the impacts of racism.

J4MW believes the moratorium will leave migrant workers in a more precarious position. The Federal government needs to address what steps will be taken to protect migrants who are in the following situations:

  • Migrant workers already in Canada who are currently awaiting LMO's in the restaurant sector.
  • Migrant workers who are employed at a workplace in the restaurant sector but desire to leave to seek alternative work as a result of exploitative working conditions.
  • Migrant workers who where employed in the restaurant industry and who have filed complaints about workplace violations.
  • Migrant workers whose contracts are close to expiration and desire the ability to find other employment.

While many politicians, community groups and labour unions welcome this announcement, J4MW believes that the TFW scheme and any effort to address abuses will fall short if the needs of migrant workers are not addressed. Without larger structural changes to protect migrant workers, this decision will have far reaching negative consequences on migrant workers across Canada. Open work permits, strengthened anti-reprisal measures, proactive enforcement of workplace rights are the immediate starting points of necessary reforms, not denying people the ability to work. Steps should be taken to increase standards for all workers so that migrant and Canadian workers are not pitted against one another.

Canadian history is filled with periods of heightened xenophobia and targeted racism against communities deemed foreign. Today's attacks against migrant workers across various segments of society are no different than the attacks against Chinese, South Asian and Japanese communities in the past. Canada continues to impose restrictions on access to status for thousands of migrants in Canada.

For more information please contact Chris Ramsaroop (647) 834-4932 or contact J4MW




Update: Migrant workers win Employment Insurance case at
Federal Court of Appeal

On November 19, 2013, the Federal Court of Appeal granted 102 court applications brought by over one hundred seasonal agricultural workers who argued that they were wrongly denied Employment Insurance parental benefits. The workers were represented by the Income Security Advocacy Centre and Niagara North Community Legal Assistance.

Read full story [PDF]: English, Español




Open Letter to the Mayor of Leamington John Paterson over recent comments on ‘Jamaican’ migrant workers

Sep 3, 2013

Mayor Paterson,
Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) is a non-profit political collective that advocates for the rights of migrant workers in Canada. J4MW has been actively engaging migrant workers in the Leamington area for over a decade. During this time, we have met thousands of migrant workers in this community.
Over the past decade we have followed with great interest the wider community’s response to migrant workers. Unfortunately, your recent remarks come as no surprise to members of our collective. In the past several years, the open hostility that your council has shown towards migrant workers represents the most blatant displays of anti-migrant sentiments we have ever witnessed. Recent comments in the media, have disparaged the use of public library facilities by migrant workers; made allegations that there are too many migrant workers ‘loitering’ downtown; and criticized the presence of too many ‘ethnic’ businesses serving the migrant worker community. In each instance ‘cultural differences’ have been used to justify the wider community’s adverse reaction to the presence of large groups of migrant workers in visible local spaces. To pass off this tension as a matter of difference based on one’s place of origin is disingenuous at best.  It alludes to there being an equal and level playing field between migrant workers and Canadians. This completely masks the fact that all migrant workers in your community are:
(1) Racialized
(2) Bound to their employers
(3) Denied social and labour mobility
(4) Denied the ability of permanent residency
(5) Are separated from their families for significant portions of time 
(6) Cannot exercise social and democratic participation in the processes that you represent.
Your analysis does not acknowledge the power imbalance in your community. You and your council are free to condemn and stigmatize migrant workers without any real and significant response from workers themselves; a population who have lived and worked in Leamington for fifty years, but continue to be considered temporary.
Your recent remarks pertaining to “lewd behaviour” of migrant workers cannot be taken in good faith. Instead of dealing with sexual harassment on an individual basis, you skip right to racialized stereotypes; drawing from some of the worst parts of Canadian history. It does not escape us that the community of Leamington once supported ‘sundown laws’ which made it illegal for Black Canadians to walk freely in the community after sunset.
It is apparent that your council would rather have migrant workers ‘out of sight and out of mind’; segregated from the white citizens of your community as much as possible. This de facto separation of migrants only reinforces the negative reputation that your community is earning under your leadership. 
Recently, human rights violations were substantiated by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) in the form of anti-black racism and widespread attention has been paid to another ongoing case involving an employer who allegedly sexual harassed racialized migrant women. As Leamington has one of the largest population of Temporary Foreign Workers (TFWs) in Canada these important cases directly impact workers in your community - yet your office took no public stance to acknowledge them. You and your council have been absent in discussions on racial profiling of the Asian population of Leamington where officers under your direction as Chair of the Police Services Board have acted as de facto Border Officials towards Asian residents of your community.
Your office has been negligent in improving road infrastructure that would ensure safe transport and greater road safety for migrant workers. Neither your council nor the municipality has grappled with the dangerous modes of transportation that migrant workers must endure.
Performing such simple tasks as phoning home, buying groceries or sending money home become feats of life and death.
Migrant workers have continued to complain that they are victims of hate crimes and, that racism and sexism continues to be part of the daily experiences while working and living in Leamington. They are constantly excluded from all discussions related to their social welfare. The question returns to you: what steps are you taking in your elected capacity to advocate for the rights of migrant workers? What resources will you put forth towards anti-racism programming, training and education for the Canadian community about the experiences of migrant workers? How are resources from the City of Leamington being allocated towards programming concerning violence against women and is this programming culturally and racially sensitive? Are your services accessible and inclusive of the migrant community of Leamington?
We express our bewilderment and dismay that after almost 50 years of working and living amongst the community, the general population of Leamington, the issues of migrant workers remain invisible. Simultaneously the only visible spaces of the downtown core where workers can come together are now threatened through the implementation of racially motivated loitering laws, that if passed will reinforce both their legal and social exclusion. 
Yes, a dialogue is needed in Leamington about migrant workers, but the dialogue that you are proposing is skewed towards an outcome that will only perpetuate the racial divisions that exist. One cannot have a dialogue when the population most impacted is left out of the conversation. Furthermore migrant workers must be seen as members of the community something it seems that you refuse to accept. There is a consistent line of argument that migrant workers should be the sole responsibility of employers and that employers should be financially responsible for any form of municipal services rendered to migrants. This argument reflects a deep seated level of paternalism and racism through implying that non-citizens should have no access to municipal services and if they do private interests should be paying the costs. Despite social and legal exclusions, migrant workers are the economic engine of Leamington and Ontario through both their labour and through their contributions to the local economy. Contributions that have come through the sacrifices that migrant workers have made to put food on the table for their families as well as ours
We can assume that the public outcry towards your recent remarks has not changed your resolve to leave unaddressed the underlying divisions that lay at the heart of the day to day realities of migrant workers. Without significant investments towards anti-racism programming, inclusive municipal services and programs that foster a genuine sense of community for all, the ongoing tensions will continue.
For our part, we will continue to educate the broader public about the true conditions that racialized migrant workers face in Leamington. We will engage and develop educational programming to ensure that migrant workers can advocate for an end to the exclusive framework that governs their lived realities in Leamington. Finally, if steps are taken to further deny civic participation of migrant workers from public spaces we will invest whatever resources needed to counter any racially motivated legislation that you and your council invoke for your own political gain. In spite of how you perceive the migrant community, migrant workers will continue to demand to be treated as equals. They will march, they will organize, and they will continue to rupture the invisibility so their voices, dreams and aspirations are heard. They will disrupt and resist the stereotypes, assumptions and beliefs that you and your colleagues may assign towards them. Their silence will be broken and their voices will be heard.





Demand Justice for Ned Livingston Peart:
Attend the Human Rights Tribunal

Friday June 28th, 2013
9:30 am to 4:30pm (Tribunal hearing) 12:30 Noon time Rally
655 Bay St, 14th Floor (intersection Bay and Elm St.)

Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) invites the community to attend the closing day of the historic Human Rights Tribunal examining the workplace death of Ned Livingston Peart, a Jamaican migrant farm worker who was killed working in a tobacco farm in rural Ontario. This case is intended to bring forward changes to prevent workplace deaths and injuries and to improve working and living conditions of migrant farmworkers in the province. There has never been an inquest into the death of a migrant worker under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program in Ontario or anywhere in Canada.

We need you to help us fill the Human Rights Tribunal for the last day of the hearing and raise your voices with us at 12:30 to demand justice for Ned at a rally outside the Tribunal!
twitter: @j4mw, #justice4peart







Organización canadiense de apoyo a trabajadores migrantes, con apoyo de organizaciones mexicanas y estadounidenses, denuncian al gobierno federal canadiense por desmantelar las prestaciones y beneficios sociales que recibían trabajadores agrícolas mexicanos en Canadá, y lanza campaña en ambos países por la restitución de tales beneficios.

CONFERENCIA DE PRENSA: Jueves 21 de febrero, 10:30am
LUGAR: CENCOS: Medellín #33 Colonia Roma. Del Cuauhtemoc. CP. 06700, México D.F.

Documento completo PDF



Justicia for Migrant Workers
c/o Workers Action Centre
720 Spadina Avenue, Suite 223
Toronto, ON M5S 2T9

February 6, 2013.

Open letter to Premier-Designate Kathleen Wynne

Premier Wynne,

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the deaths of eleven people in Hampstead, Ontario. One year later, the survivors and the families of the deceased are still left with many questions but with few answers about how and why this accident took place.

In the past year, many community and labour organizations rallied together to urge changes so that accidents like this one never happen again. We urged the Office of Chief Coroner to conduct its first ever inquest into the workplace deaths of migrant workers employed under the Federal Temporary Foreign Worker Program. We also met with Ministry of Labour officials to advocate for reform of labour laws to protect Ontario's most vulnerable communities. But our requests have been ignored. The Chief Coroner’s refusal to further investigate one of the worst workplace accidents in the history of Ontario sends a message that the lives of those who perished -- most of whom were migrant workers -- matter less than those of other workers. We remind you that there has NEVER been an inquest into the death of a migrant worker in the Province of Ontario.

Employment standards, Occupational Health and Safety and Workers Compensation remain woefully inadequate denying equal access to rights that all workers deserve. At the same time, migrant workers are not provided with special protections against reprisals for attempting to enforce their rights at work. Temporary foreign workers remain at the mercy of unscrupulous recruiters and contractors who can charge exorbitant recruitment and placement fees.

We urge you undertake the following steps:

• Review the decision not to undertake an inquest into the Hampstead accident

• Strengthen anti-reprisal mechanisms so that migrant workers can enforce their rights at work

• Ban all recruitment and placement fees for all temporary foreign workers

• Modernize Ontario labour laws to protect the most vulnerable workers in the province

• Write a letter to the federal government urging them to provide permanent immigration status for the survivors of the Hampstead accident

Premier Wynne, you have on many occasions referred to yourself as Ontario's 'Social Justice Premier'. We can think of no better way to put those words into action than by taking the necessary steps to protect the most precarious and marginalized population of workers in Ontario. To do nothing is not only a disservice, but dishonours the memory of all those men who died in an accident that could have been prevented.

Migrant workers deserve equal rights in Ontario. Currently these rights barely exist on paper. It is incumbent on your office to take the necessary steps to ensure justice for the families of the deceased and dignity for the survivors. This province must take its responsibility to protect precarious workers seriously by enacting meaningful and proactive legislation that protects all workers


Justicia for Migrant Workers Collective
toll-free number: 1-877-707-6620 x 1



EI Migrant Worker Campaign

Restore EI Rights for Migrant Workers


Tell Canada Don’t Be a Scrooge, Restore Migrant Workers Rights to Benefits
By Stabroek staff   MONDAY, DECEMBER 24, 2012

Diaspora Column Editor’s Note: In October, travelling to Guyana from Toronto, I noticed that nearly all of the passengers were men, hauling bags of various shapes and sizes. They were temporary farm workers, heading home to Trinidad and Tobago in the off season. The man I sat next to had been coming to Canada for over eight years. This column is dedicated to them, and to all those who leave the Caribbean under similar work programs in order to support families at home.

Complete Article: Link, PDF


Dear J4MW allies, 

Over the last days Justicia for Migrant Workers has been sending information about the devastating and unjust news about recent Federal government’s announcement to eliminate Employment Insurance (EI) special parental, maternal and compassionate benefits for migrant workers starting on Dec 9th.

The Toronto Star has written both an editorial and a news item based on J4MW’s concerns over the recent elimination of Employment Insurance Benefits (maternity, parental and compassionate care). Special benefits are extremely important for migrant workers and their families because they provide income support to take care of new born babies, and ailing family members.  We must fight against this tremendous injustice along with the workers and we need the support of all of you.

We need to keep the momentum!! Below there is a list of actions you can do to support this fight:

1) Spread the word! Circulate J4MW press release and Toronto Star articles among your friends and networks. Links"—seasonal-migrant-workers-stripped-of-parental-benefits—ottawa-should-treat-migrant-workers-with-basic-fairness

2) Write a letter to the editor to express your outrage over how migrant workers are treated in Canada.  In your letter you can highlight the following:

a. Your concerns over the cuts to EI special benefits for migrant workers and the impact that this will have on migrant workers and their families back home

b. Explain why you think this benefit should be restored and why migrant workers should be entitled to all benefits that Canadians receive.

c. Demand the benefits to be restored, not exempted 

d. Emphasize that the solution is full inclusion and expansion of access to EI benefits forall workers rather than exempting migrant workers from EI deductions from EI. This `solution’ will only further their exclusion and marginalization perpetuating a ‘second class’ citizens status.

*To get a letter to the editor published it should be no more than a 150 words. Emphasize one key point and send your letter in the next 36 hours.

3) Send the article to your Member of Provincial Parliament (MP) and ask them where do they stand on this issue and what steps will they take to restore EI benefits for migrant workers?

4) Take a picture and tweet it!

Migrant workers and community activists have been sending Diane Finley, Jason Kenney and their local MP’s photos and messages expressing their outrage over these cuts. Links to pictures and messages below

J4MW Twitter:
J4MW Facebook group:

Thank you for your support and engagement to fight for Justice for Migrant Workers!!



Migrant rights activists denounce Canada’s Federal Government for stripping away Employment Insurance benefit for migrant workers

December 10, 2012

(Toronto)  Migrant worker advocates are angered and shocked to learn that the Federal Government is once again attacking one of Canada’s most vulnerable populations.

Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development Diane Finley announced on December 6th the elimination of Employment Insurance (EI) special benefits (parental, maternal and compassionate benefits) for migrant workers employed under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker program. The minister failed to report that these workers will continue to pay into this social protection fund, as they have been doing so since 1966, yet now will no longer be able to collect these benefits.
Migrant workers perform back-breaking dangerous jobs and pay into government social protection programs yet they are consistently denied the benefits of such programs. It is estimated that migrant workers have contributed $ 3.4 million annually  into Canada's Employment Insurance scheme. However it was not until 2002 that some migrant workers started to access special benefits. Over the last ten years, workers from the Caribbean and Mexico have benefited from parental benefits to provide much needed support for their newly born children. By eliminating this benefit the federal government is in fact eliminating one of the few income supports that are available to migrant workers employed under Canada’s Temporary Foreign Worker Programs.

 Junior Sylvester a twelve year veteran of the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program says “The elimination of these special benefits violates the nature of the Employment Insurance act that was put into place to protect our families and our children from falling into poverty".

“For over forty years migrant workers have been subsidizing Canada’s EI fund yet have been  ‘ineligible’ to receive full benefits, and now they are being completely stripped away from the few special benefits they were able to access. This is completely unjust and outrageous” says Justicia for Migrant Workers’ organizer Adriana Paz Ramirez. Given this situation, Paz Ramirez states that “the fight right now should be to restore this benefit and to fully include migrant workers into social protection programs rather than eliminating access and reinforcing a system that perpetuates exclusion and marginalization of migrant workers”.
For more information please call Chris Ramsaroop at 647-834-4932 or email at





For migrant workers, injury often means a one-way ticket home
Published on Thursday August 09, 2012
Nicholas Keung
Immigration Reporter - TORONTO STAR

Two years after being hit on his bike by a truck in Exeter, migrant farm worker Eloid Drummond finally will get surgery to fix his dislocated and separated right shoulder in Toronto. Drummond was presented with a one-way ticket back to Jamaica by his employer after the accident, but insisted on staying in Canada despite the cancellation of his work permit and OHIP.

After Eloid Drummond was hit by a car in Exeter, Ont., and suffered a dislocated shoulder, he was declared “AWOL” by his employer — and Canada — because he refused to quietly go home to Jamaica.

Unable to continue farm work, he was terminated from Canada’s Seasonal Agricultural Workers’ Program, and hence lost his social insurance card and health coverage for his injuries.

Being labeled AWOL (absent without leave) also meant he couldn’t be rehired within the program, which each year brings in 25,000 foreign farm workers from Mexico, the Caribbean and Latin America.

On Friday, after fighting repatriation ever since the May 2010 accident, Drummond, 39, will finally get badly needed surgery on his right shoulder at Humber River Regional Hospital.

Had it not been for Drummond’s stubborn determination, he would have become just another number on Service Canada’s AWOL list.

According to government statistics, 3,709 migrant farm workers were deemed AWOL in the program between 1996 and 2011. A further 1,198 were sent home for medical reasons during that period, and 2,923 were flown back due to “breach of contract.”

Chris Ramsaroop, of Justicia for Migrant Workers, a grassroots advocacy group, said injured workers may be covered under workers’ comp. But there are generally no modified jobs available on farms, and farmers are under no obligation to rehire the worker for the following season. It’s easier to simply send injured workers home, where they may find it difficult to get proper treatment or to communicate with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Often they end up not getting the compensation they’re entitled to.

“Rather than provide full access to healthcare in Canada, migrant workers are repatriated, or unilaterally sent to their home country,” Ramsaroop said, describing the situation as a catch-22.

“If they decide not to return home and seek medical and legal support here, they are then determined to have gone AWOL.”

Drummond, a fisherman and farmer from St. Elizabeth, Jamaica, came to work at a greenhouse in Exeter in 2005. Since then, he has spent eight months each year in Canada, harvesting and packaging sweet peppers.

On May 28, 2010, Drummond was on his way to his bunkhouse after sending money home to his family in Jamaica when a vehicle hit his bicycle at an intersection on Exeter’s Main St. He was thrown off and landed on his back.

Drummond claimed the driver ran a stop sign. But police charged Drummond instead and slapped him with a $110 fine for not riding within the marked lane (Drummond says there was no marked bike lane).

“He gave me two weeks to pay the fine, but I said, ‘I’m not wrong. I’m not going to pay the ticket. It’s not my fault,’” Drummond recalled.

While recovering at his bunkhouse and working reduced hours with modified duties, Drummond said, he was called into his boss’s office in July 2010 and handed a one-way ticket to Jamaica.

Although the charge was dismissed and Drummond has managed to remain here legally on a visitor’s visa, he is unable to work and has had to fight to get his shoulder fixed.

He finally got the driver’s car insurance company to foot a $5,000 bill for the complex reconstructive shoulder surgery he needs.

But the road to recovery will be long, said Drummond, who has been living on meagre savings, help from friends and small payouts from the insurance company.

“I need six weeks of physiotherapy and it’s going to take another six months for recovery,” he said. “I don’t know what I’m going to live on.”

Link: WEB, PDF



Urgent – Community Appeal
Injured Migrant Worker in Need of Support

UPDATE:  Eloid recently learned that after waiting 2 years, he will finally get his surgery!  Plans are underway to organize a community event in London, Ontario to celebrate this amazing victory.  Sadly, despite this win, Eloid's fight is far from over. 
He does not yet know whether the insurance company will provide financial support while he recovers.  Further, the conditions of his visitor visa ensure that he will remain in poverty until he is able to regain function in his arm and figure out his next steps.  For those of you who have committed to hosting a fundraiser, please know that it is still desperately needed.  A massive thank you to everyone who has stood in solidarity and responded to this call for  support!  

Click here for a Caribbean Camera article about Eloid


Brother Eloid Drummond is an activist and injured migrant worker from Jamaica whose shoulder was hurt last year on his way to work.  Because Eloid is a migrant worker he is excluded from getting many basic human rights; including social assistance and OHIP.  As a result of being forced to pay for ALL his healthcare, Eloid he has been unable to pay for the surgery that would re-attach his arm.   While he waits for the slow wheels of justice to turn, Eloid struggles to get by on no income, with a lot of pain and with little to eat.  Despite these injustices, Eloid is a committed activist and organizer who fights for the rights of all workers.

Eloid  asked us to reach out to people who could assist him at this time.  If you would like to contribute, or if you would like to host a fundraiser in your community, please contact: Beryl Brown (Bright Lights) at 416-244-3368 or Jessica Ponting (Justicia for Migrant Workers) at 647-401-9611 or Alberto Lalli (IAVGO Community Legal Clinic) at 416-924-6477.  Thank you!




'Remembering the Dead, Standing up for the Living' March and Vigil to Commemorate
the Hampstead Accident

poster vigil

Who: Migrant workers, community allies and Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW)
What: Vigil to Commemorate the Hampstead accident 
Where: Hampstead, Ontario 
When: Sunday July 22, 2012 meet at 11 am at the Working Centre Cafe at 43 Queen St. South, Kitchener, ON. From here, cars and buses will leave together for the site. Join us back at The Working Centre at 2 pm for a reception.

Sign up sheet for all who will join us

Six months have passed since the tragic accident that killed eleven people near Hampstead, Ontario. Amongst the dead were 9 migrant chicken catchers from Peru. The impact of this accident has been felt across the hemisphere as families struggle to cope in the wake of this accident. To commemorate the sixth month anniversary, Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) is organizing a March and Vigil entitled “Remembering the Dead, Standing up for the Living”. It will take place Sunday July 22, 2012 starting at noon.

Working with the survivors of the accident, the march and vigil is being organized to raise awareness of the thousands of migrant workers who have been injured, become or sick while working in Canada. 

The survivors of the crash, Javier and Juan, wish to break the invisibility not only of their situation but to raise the profile of the conditions faced by migrant workers across Canada. Their message is clear: Federal and Provincial laws designed to protect migrant workers don’t work! Fundamental steps need to be taken to ensure that migrant workers are treated with respect and dignity. Our demands are as follows:

  • Safe working conditions
  • Status upon arrival
  • No fees for work
  • Equal access to all entitlements
  • Modernize labour laws to reflect the realities of migrant workers
  • No repatriations and deportations

We are asking you to join us on Sunday July 22nd, please organize within your community by

  1. Organizing a group to attend the march
  2. Providing support either rides or financial to bring migrant workers to this event
  3. Demanding action to protect migrant workers from both provincial and federal politicians
  4. Sending a message of solidarity to the survivors and to the migrant workers who will participate in this event
  5. Endorsements from your organization
  6. Help us to spread the word in your networks and social media connections,
  7. For monetary contributions send cheque

Justicia for Migrant Workers
c/o Workers Action Centre
720 Spadina Avenue, Suite 223
Toronto, ON M5S 2T9, Canada

Fundraising letter for your local/community group***

Click here for more background:

Spanish Poster and Call Out

New Videos of our Second 'Pilgrimage to Freedom'



J4MW Resource
Temporary Foreign Worker Programs in Canada

click on the image to access resource in pdf


Migrant Agricultural Workers’
Human Rights and Health Conference

May 17 & May 18, 2012
Ramada Plaza Toronto
300 Jarvis Street

The Industrial Accident Victim’s group of Ontario (IAVGO), Asian Community AIDS Services (ACAS) and Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) invite you to participate in the Migrant Agricultural Workers’ Human Rights and Health Conference taking place May 17th and 18th in Toronto.

Participants will have an opportunity examine various areas of law as well as healthcare issues relevant to migrant workers. The conference aims to provide a platform to exchange ideas and updates on law reform work as well as formulate strategies that will increase the capacity of workers to improve their rights and protections.

While the targeted audience is community health clinics, community legal clinics, members of the private bar, organizers and activists, the conference is open to anyone who is interested in developing and implementing strategies to improve the working and living conditions of migrant workers in Ontario.

If migrant workers from your community are interested in attending this event please let us know in advance so that we can estimate numbers for our translators.


Adrian A. Smith is an assistant professor in the Department of Law and Legal Studies at Carleton University and has acted as co-counsel for Justice for Migrant Workers and the Industrial Accident Victims Group of Ontario in their intervention in Fraser before the Supreme Court of Canada.  He holds a doctorate in law from McGill University.  His dissertation is entitled: “Enduring Unfreedom: Law and the State in the Regulation of Trinidadian Sugar Workers”.  He has won numerous research awards relating to international labour migration and precarious work.  He is currently working on a book on law, development and temporary labour migration.

Please register by May 9th, 2012 by faxing the Registration Form to IAVGO at 416-924-2472 or e-mailing it to

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Mary DiNucci at 416-924-6477.

Registration Form
Formal Invitation
Conference Agenda



Family Day Action to Demand Justice for Migrant Farmworker Deaths

Friday February 17, 2012, 12pm
Office of the Chief Coroner
32 Grenville St . (College and Bay)
Followed by march to the Ministry of Labour
400 University Ave. (University and Dundas)

As Ontarians prepare to celebrate Family Day, Justicia for Migrant Workers is urging community allies to join us to demand justice for the families of Ralston White and Paul Roach. We will also be remembering the lives tragically lost in the recent crash that killed ten migrant workers just outside London, ON. Ten migrant workers employed as chicken catchers and the driver of a transport truck died on February 6, 2012.

Click here for more info
Facebook Event Page

J4MW: Press Release: Tragedy warrants Coroner's Inquest, migrant advocacy group calls on Chief Coroner to initiate first ever Coroner's Inquest involving deaths of migrant workers in Hampstead, Ontario.

TORONTO, Feb. 8, 2012 /CNW/ - Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) is urging the Office of the Chief Coroner to undertake a Coroner's Inquest into the deaths of eleven people who died tragically in a vehicle collision in Hampstead, Ontario. Ten migrant workers employed as chicken catchers and the driver of a transport truck died late Monday afternoon in the town of Hampstead, Ontario.

Link to full release in English
In Spanish



September 25, 2011

Windsor - Leamington - Chatham - Dresden
Windsor meeting point:
11:00 am at the Tower for Freedom Monument, at 100 Pitt St East, Windsor Ontario, and get on the bus for the Pilgrimage to Freedom Caravan!!

October 2, 2011

Simcoe - Brantford - Hamilton - TORONTO!!!!
Brantford meeting spot:  10:00am, S. R. Drake Memorial Church, 165 Murray St., Brantford
Hamilton meeting spot:  12:30pm, Workers Arts and Heritage Centre, 51 Stuart Street, Hamilton.

The caravan will end in Toronto with a march and celebration, featuring a great line up of speakers and performers such as Rosina Kazi from LAL. Join us as we make labour history!!

Coverage of our Sept 4 action:

The Star

St. Catherine's Standard

Niagara Advance

Brock Press

Share News

Pilgrimage to Freedom Caravan 2011

Last year, over 150 migrant workers and their allies made history by marching over 50 Km, an equivalent of 12 hours, from Leamington to Windsor, Ontario demanding justice, respect and dignity for the hundreds of thousands employed under the auspices of Canada's Temporary Foreign Worker Programs. After years of harassment, intimidation and exploitation, migrant workers organized and took to the streets to stand up to these abuses.
The march called the 'Pilgrimage to Freedom: Breaking the Chains of Indentureship' ended in Windsor at the Tower of Freedom that is dedicated to those who travelled the underground railroad. The monument was chosen as the ending point to reflect on the connections of past and the present to slavery, indentureship and statelessness that renders racialized peoples as non-citizens. Over the last year, thousands of people have heard the testimonies and the stories that led to organizing the march. Demands for permanent residency and citizenship status, an end to repatriations and deportations, labour law reform, equal access to social entitlements and an end to the coercive role of recruiters and contractors has inspired many others about the realities faced by migrant workers in Canada.

Migrant workers and members of Justicia for Migrant Workers have continued to organize in rural Ontario and are once again demanding that the chains of indentureship in Canada be broken. This year the pilgrimage continues as a form of a caravan across rural Ontario. Migrant workers and their allies will be recreating the stops of the underground railroad to pay tribute to the important struggles of resistance that we base our struggle upon.
J4MW is requesting the support of community, religious, labour and allied organizations to join us for this year's action. Migrant workers and their allies will be calling community meetings, and organizing meetings across south western Ontario. This year's actions will take place across several communities.  If you are interested in further information feel free to contact Justicia for Migrant Workers. Tentative dates for stops on the caravan include

September 4, 2011
Niagara on the Lake, St. Catharines and Niagara Falls
For more details on the Niagara Action click here

September 25, 2011
Windsor, Leamington, Chatham and Dresden

October 2, 2011
Simcoe - Brantford - Hamilton - Toronto


Click here for more information


5 PM EST, April 29, 2011

Supreme Court listened, they ruled and they failed!

Migrant workers struggle to continue despite recent
Supreme Court decision!

(Toronto): In the face of the utter contempt by Canada’s highest court, Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) reaffirms its commitment to the struggle for migrant justice in Canada. Today, the Supreme Court failed to address issues raised by Justicia for Migrant Workers relating to agricultural worker self-determination, to ongoing racism in Canadian society and to the inherently exclusionary impact of Canada's immigration laws. The Court's ruling in Fraser reinforces the hyper-exploitative and apartheid-like conditions faced by hundreds of thousands of migrant workers across Canada.

While the recent decision reflects an ongoing unwillingness in this country to deal with its racist past and present, migrant worker organizing will not be deterred.  J4MW will continue to work with migrant workers to take matters into their own hands to assert their dignity and to assert control over their everyday lives.  

“Canada's temporary foreign worker programs are based on our country’s ongoing legacy of slavery and indentureship” says Adrian Smith, an organizer with Justicia for Migrant Workers. "Canada’s immigration and labour laws systemically deny migrant workers to exert their rights through the traditional legal framework. Workers will take action into their own hands irrespective of what the courts say. We do not need to the Supreme Court to tell us these schemes are racist.  We have history on our side” continues Smith.

Justicia for Migrant Workers continue to demand:

  • Status upon arrival for all temporary foreign workers.
  • The elimination of placement and recruitment fees for all migrant workers
  • An appeals mechanism against deportation/ repatriations
  • Reform labour laws to provide better coverage for all TFWP workers
  • Provide migrants equal access to all social entitlements, including EI, CPP, welfare and health care

Press Release PDF

April 29, 2011

Farm workers have no right to unionize, top court rules

Supreme Court upholds Ontario law that restricts right of farm workers to bargain collectively

Globe and Mail Update

The Supreme Court of Canada dealt a harsh blow to the union movement today, ruling in favour of an Ontario law that restricts the right of farm workers to bargain collectively.

The Court said that the constitutional right to free association guarantees that "meaningful" negotiations take place between workers and their employers - but it is not intended to police the mechanics of how those negotiations take place.

"What is protected is associational activity, not a particular process or result," the majority said. "The Ontario legislature is not required to provide a particular form of collective bargaining rights to agricultural workers, in order to secure the effective exercise of their associational rights."

The case was seen as a key test of the constitutional right to free association, a section of the Charter of Rights that has evolved less than many others.

Full article:
Globe and Mail Online

April 2011

Since 1999, the number of temporary foreign workers from Latin America and the Caribbean employed in Canada's agricultural sector has tripled. Most temporary workers on farms are men, but the number of women is on the rise. In Canada, female temporary foreign workers endure precarious working and living conditions on the farms and face gender-specific challenges. This policy brief documents this new trend in temporary migration and highlights the vulnerabilities of female workers employed in Canada’s agricultural industry.



Justicia for Migrant Workers was recognized at the 15th Annual JS Woodworth Awards, March 21, 2011:

"For Justicia for Migrant Workers' outstanding commitment to advancing the rights of visible minorities and immigrants, and eliminating racial discrimination."



Online courtesy of the NFB: El Contrato follows Teodoro Bello Martinez, a poverty-stricken father of four living in Central Mexico, and several of his countrymen as they make an annual migration to southern Ontario. For eight months of the year the town's population absorbs 4000 migrant labourers who pick tomatoes for conditions and wages no local will accept. Under a well-meaning government program that allows growers to monitor themselves, the opportunity to exploit workers is as ripe as the fruit they pick. Grievances are deflected by a long line of others "back home" who are willing to take their place.

Despite a fear of repercussions, the workers voice their desire for dignity and respect, as much as for better working conditions. El Contrato ends as winter closes in and the Mexicans pledge, not for the first time and possibly not the last, that it's their final season in the north.

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