As summer approaches, temporary foreign agricultural workers are arriving in large numbers on Quebec soil. On the ground, seventeen Quebec organizations are hard at work to welcome them in the best conditions. Projects that will support and inform workers throughout the summer season are funded by the Government of Canada through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. Support that will continue throughout the summer season, thanks to support from the Government of Canada.
New this year, the Economic Development Corporation of the MRC de Montmagny (CDEMM) will add a complementary component to its activities. Already involved with immigrant workers in its region, the organization had, until the summer of 2021, few ties with temporary foreign workers in the agricultural sector, explains Béatrice St-Pierre, development officer at the ‘immigration. “It is a community that is relatively isolated, and I think that we only know one worker in this field out of the 350 with whom we have already intervened. »
The situation changed in 2021, when the team was approached by the municipality of Saint-François-de-la-Rivière-du-Sud, where the majority of farms in the region are concentrated. “ They had been contacted by the Saniben farm, which wanted to help temporary foreign workers to come out of their isolation, to be more fulfilled, better integrated. The idea of creating a soccer line, open to all temporary foreign workers as well as to the inhabitants of the region, was then born.
“ It also gave us the idea of organizing the first intercultural agricultural festival in Quebec, in October 2021, which brought together temporary foreign workers not only from the agricultural sector, but also from elsewhere, as well as the local population ”, emphasizes Béatrice St-Pierre. More than 200 people took part in the various activities. “This allowed us to establish a first contact with about fifty workers in the field. »
Offer specialized services
CDEMM, over time, the organization realized that there was a significant need for some more specialized workers, who came out of what the CDEMM could offer. This is why, thanks to the support of the Government of Canada, he decided to offer professional services related to immigration and the psychosocial field. “ We did not have the training to help them navigate these issues, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic, while the procedures are more complex, lengthier, and can cause delays for those who want to bring their families ” , emphasizes Béatrice St-Pierre.
The CDEMM will therefore offer temporary foreign workers who need it two hours of consultation with a lawyer or other immigration specialist. “ These are expensive services and there was no organization in our region that offered this at a cost accessible to all”, she specifies. On the same principle, it will also be possible to obtain psychosocial help, with a psychologist, a speech therapist for children, or even a mediator in the event of separation. “ We wanted to keep this very broad component, to ensure that we properly cover the needs of the workers ”, mentioned the speaker.
As many temporary foreign workers speak neither French nor English, they may also be accompanied by a translator during their appointments. “We also have three computers that are available to them on our premises, for meetings that must take place remotely,” she adds.
By September 30, 2022, the organization plans to reach 45 people with this new service. “Our project does not only affect temporary foreign workers in the agricultural sector, but it could be particularly useful to them, because the challenges they face are greater,” analyzes Béatrice St-Pierre.
Other supporting organizations
While the CDEMM is one of the program’s new recruits this year, several others will be there again this year. This is the case of the Réseau d’aide aux travailleurs et producteurs Migrant Agricoles du Québec (RATTMAQ), which is once again this year at Montreal’s international airport to welcome new arrivals as they leave the plane. Their kiosk allows workers to establish initial contact with these workers, in addition to providing them with information to facilitate their stay here.
Once again this year, temporary foreign agricultural workers will also be able to use the 1-800 line launched by the Federation of the Union of Agricultural Producers [UPA] of Montérégie, in September 2021. Thanks to the numbers 1-888-454- 3998 (by telephone) and 514-235-2765 (by the WhatsApp application), they will be able to have answers to many of their questions, in particular on taxation and their rights at work. Without forgetting AGRI-connexion, an application to help agricultural workers, available free of charge on the Apple App Store as well as on Google Play. An initiative led by the AGRIcarrières organization.
A growing network
In addition, the links between the organizations are strengthened over time. An important step was taken in this regard in April 2022, when a dozen of them met with representatives of the consulates of Guatemala and Mexico, two countries with many temporary workers in Quebec. At the initiative of Immigrant Québec, which also took an active part in the meeting, the stakeholders discussed the needs and the actions to be taken.
The participants were also able to start the discussion on the different possible partnerships to face the challenges faced by agricultural workers in these two countries. In the same vein, Immigrant Québec flew to Vancouver in March 2022 to participate in the Metropolis Canada conference. This meeting, which focused on the theme “ Reopening Canada: a look at the future of immigration, settlement and integration ”, will have allowed participants to not only fill up on ideas, but also to meet certain organizations that share the same mission and come from all over the country.
These different initiatives have been selected to support and inform temporary foreign workers, as part of a support program that was set up in 2021 by the Government of Canada and extended until September 30, 2022. These projects are funded They are by the Government of Canada, through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, and coordinated by Immigrant Quebec. This program was set up in 2021 and has been renewed until September 30, 2022.