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Marie-Anne DAYÉ

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Concrete to support temporary foreign workers

The Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) and the Immigrant Workers Center (CTI) are the first two organizations to benefit from the new support mesure for temporary foreign workers affected by COVID-19, launched last February. here are their plans.

Guide workers through the maze of measures

Temporary foreign workers are covered by various measures related to COVID-19. But between federal government programs, provincial measures and private insurance, it can be difficult to find your way – especially for someone who is not familiar with the Quebec system.

This is why the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) has decided to set up a “decision tree” which will allow foreign agricultural workers – and their employers – to orient themselves more easily in their procedures, and better. understand the different measures that apply in relation to COVID-19. “The objective of the project is above all to reassure workers so that they know that there are protection mechanisms that exist if they have to be tested,” explains Denis Roy, treasurer and director of the Finance and Administration Department. agricultural labor. One way to prevent some from going to the fields even if they have symptoms, for fear of losing their wages.

The team will therefore begin by listing all the salary support measures that exist, as well as the requirements and conditions to access them, he says. “For example, in some cases, you have to have worked in Canada last year to receive a benefit, while in other cases, agreements with private insurers are made. “This mapping will also make it possible to verify that there are no situations where workers find themselves without protection,” says Denis Roy. “If so, we will make representations to government bodies to ensure that workers are not left to fend for themselves. “

This tool, which should be available from mid-April, will be translated into Spanish, in order to more easily reach the 16,000 temporary foreign workers who are joining the ranks of some 2,000 agricultural businesses across the province. Of this number, around 90% to 95% are Spanish-speaking, says Denis Roy. In addition to being available on the UPA website, this “decision tree” will also be integrated into the AGRI-connexion platform of AGRIcarrières.

Know and assert your rights

What if a housekeeper catches COVID-19 and her employer no longer wants her to live in her home? What are the remedies of workers on a farm who must isolate themselves? The pandemic has accentuated several problems experienced by temporary foreign workers, notes Manuel Salamanca Cardona, member of the board of directors of the Center for Immigrant Workers (CTI). “The requests are more numerous, more urgent and sometimes more complex. “

It is to meet these increased needs that the organization has set up new services, complementary to its mission, in addition to increasing those that were already in place. Already, the financial support of Immigrant Quebec will allow the CTI to hire a new resource to join the team responsible for supporting workers. Services that range from support for people to understand their recourse or the steps to be taken, to more personalized follow-up.

The CTI also intends to increase the number of meetings in the communities, in order to build bridges, in particular with agricultural workers in the various regions of Quebec. “We go to some places they frequent on their days off, such as the grocery store,” says Manuel Salamanca Cardona. This allows us to establish a first contact. Then they know they can turn to us when needed. “

Likewise, the organization is preparing a series of informative guides to help workers learn more about their rights, such as leaflets and videos. In addition, there are various virtual discussion groups set up during the pandemic. “This not only gives them information, but also gives them the opportunity to share their realities,” notes Manuel Salamanca Cardona. A pulse on the ground that also feeds the organization in its representations to government authorities to improve the lot of immigrant workers.

Remember that the new measure to support temporary foreign workers affected by COVID-19 was launched last February and allows non-profit organizations (NPOs) to obtain financial support to set up projects to support, inform and support these employees. So far, 17 initiatives have received the approval of Immigrant Québec, responsible for the call for projects. Others could also be accepted, as there are still funds remaining in the CAN $ 1 million envelope granted by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Organizations wishing to do so can still apply. However, projects must be completed by June 30, 2021.

Find out more: https://www.infotetquebec.com/mandat-edsc/

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