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Marie-Anne DAYÉ

Conceptrice - Rédactrice

Meet temporary foreign workers

Reception and integration activities were in full swing during the months of April, May and June. Organizations supported by the Government of Canada through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program have been hard at work on the ground, joining thousands of them at the airport, on the farm, in food processing plants food or other types of businesses. First assessment.

The spring is quite intense for the Réseau d’aide aux travailleuses et travailleurs agricole du Québec (RATTMAQ), which welcomed more than 13,000 temporary foreign workers at the Montreal airport between April and July. Each of them was able to receive various leaflets informing them of their rights as well as information related to COVID-19. A welcome that also allowed the organization to inform these newcomers about their services.

During the same period, RATTMAQ workers were also able to meet more than 1,300 temporary foreign workers as they prepared to return to their country of origin. The latter flew away with information on their rights when they return to Quebec. In total, this represents 136 flights arriving in or departing from Montreal.

A method that seems effective since during these months, the RATTMAQ received nearly 3,500 text messages via WhatsApp and just over 1,100 phone calls. Between April 1 and June 30, stakeholders filed 577 complaints, in addition to providing legal support to 244 temporary foreign workers.

Other resources as they arrive

The RATTMAQ is not the only one to welcome temporary foreign workers on the tarmac. On April 30, the team from the Orientation and Integration Service for Immigrants at Work (SOIT) also went there to meet with them. In an activity organized in partnership with the Consulate of Guatemala, they went to the Montreal airport and accompanied 184 agricultural workers upon their arrival on Quebec soil. In addition to offering them a snack after this long trip, the team was able to inform them about the different services offered by SOIT and invite them to join their WhatsApp group. Nearly a hundred temporary foreign workers have joined the ranks of the network, which now has 340 members. An essential tool for maintaining contact and sharing information. The organization has also used this channel to broadcast various capsules prepared with the help of the Commission for Standards, Equity, Health and Safety at Work (CNESST) in French and Spanish on various subjects. related to workers’ rights. Information relating to practical life, such as banking services or insurance, was also shared there.

Foster ties with the community

For a second consecutive year, the Actions interculturelles de développement et d’éducation (AIDE) organization has relaunched the “Ensemble on sème” project, which builds bridges between temporary foreign workers and the surrounding Sherbrooke community. To promote these connections, an edition in French and Spanish of the local newspaper, “L’écho de Compton” has also been published.

In the spring and early summer, the team organized several information sessions for these temporary foreign workers, whether directly in their homes or in restaurants, community halls or on farms. These sessions also make it possible to offer personalized follow-up to those who demonstrate the need for it. Between April and July, more than 150 of them were reached by the organization.

Visit of a sugar shack, meeting with the musicians of Orford music, participation in a Latin carnival, organization of soccer matches: fifteen sports and cultural activities have also been put on the schedule by the team of ‘ASSISTANCE. These events, sometimes organized in conjunction with municipalities, not only break the isolation of temporary foreign workers, but also give them the opportunity to create ties and boost their self-confidence. It also helps to better understand cultural differences, notes the organization.

AIDE workers were also present on the ground. The organization was even contacted by a producer who planned to hire two temporary foreign workers. The team therefore welcomed them with a grocery store of Latino products in addition to helping them with certain practical aspects, such as downloading an application allowing them to do their banking transactions online. A partnership with Radio Mas latinos also allowed workers to get to know the social networks in their region better and to take part in the various activities offered. “Employers, citizens, organizations, all are mobilizing to include temporary foreign workers in the social fabric of the regions and the workers are very grateful for this,” concludes the organization.

Real… and virtual contacts

For its part, AGRIcarrières continued to reach workers not only in the field thanks to its brigade, but also through various information tools. Thus, in addition to having visited a dozen farms between April 1 and June 30, an average of 15.8 people logged on to the AGRI-Connexion application each day. Launched in the summer of 2021, this application available for free on the Apple App Store and on Google Play offers practical content in French, English and Spanish.

Workers are not only informed of the existence of this tool at the airport, but also on social media, such as Facebook. Balloons bearing the image of the application are also distributed directly to farms, via Agricultural Employment Centers (CEA).

However, foreign agricultural workers have been more difficult to reach for online outreach activities, the team found. Indeed, every Thursday, the organization offers a virtual meeting called “Sortilegio”, but the team had difficulty reaching its target. On the other hand, those who participate appreciate the fact of being in contact with Quebec stakeholders, we note.

Field activities

The Laurentides Employment Integration Center (CIE) team has been busy during this period, while these activities have enabled it to reach nearly 200 temporary foreign workers. Activities, webinars, calls and information sessions were on the team’s schedule. In addition, the MRC of Deux-Montagnes invited the organization to participate in the visit of a dozen farms in the territory. Meetings that allowed us to discuss with the owners the various challenges they are experiencing, to explain to them the services offered by the organization and to discuss with some temporary foreign workers.

In May, the CIE Laurentides team went to a soccer match at the Saputo stadium in Montreal with 70 workers from 32 different farms. A free activity that was made possible thanks to various partners, such as AGRIcarrières and the Union des producteurs (UPA) Outaouais-Laurentides. This event gave a boost to worker morale, the team found.

If the offer of services for temporary foreign workers is improving, there are still needs to be met, in particular preventive activities regarding the excessive consumption of alcohol in the Spanish language, also notes the organization. Likewise, more activities should be organized to allow them to relax, it is added.

Information for a successful stay Several groups also took advantage of this period to distribute various information to workers. This is the case of the Center for Immigrant Workers (CTI), which reprinted some 2,500 leaflets produced during the pandemic. The distribution of these documents allowed them to meet these workers in various cultural events, workshops and other events. Several activities relating to workers’ rights were also on the schedule, notably in Montreal, Montmagny and Rimouski.

Same report on the side of the Center patronal de santé et sécurité du Québec, which has prepared kits for employers and temporary foreign workers. Each of them contained different leaflets as well as posters related to health and safety, such as heat prevention, wearing a mask or the services offered by the CNESST. In addition to distributing 80 kits to workers, the team also organized training directly with employers. Each participant received a “Prevention-COVID” set which included handkerchiefs, disinfectant gel and procedure mask.

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