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Aug. 5, 2020 | Wednesday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Unanswered questions about migrant workers' treatment

Dear editor:

In your June 10 article, "Report accuses farmers of exploiting migrant workers," the reader is left with several questions unanswered.

In this article, NOTL town councillor Erwin Weins made blanket statements regarding workers' safety, such as: "Every worker is being contacted on a daily basis to ensure that they are safe," "We're making sure that (protocols) are being followed," and "We're making sure that everything's fine."

Who is Mr. Weins referring to as "we"? Is he really contacting every worker? Is the reader to actually assume that Mr. Wiens, on behalf of the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, has personally undertaken the logistics of a multilingual call centre and tracing unit to serve as a watchdog for the rights and working conditions of hundreds of migrant workers? What clarifying question was posed to Mr. Wiens as to how this operation is being executed?

Furthermore, if Mr. Wiens is personally taking time "to follow up with some growers just to make sure that everything’s fine," how many growers did he visit? Which growers?

What assessment or evaluation was done to render an outcome that deemed all complaints and grievances to be "fine"? Which growers didn't he visit? Oh wait, but I thought he was visiting every worker – isn't that all growers?

Why instead didn't Mr. Wiens or The Lake Report speak with the Migrant Workers Alliance for Change? Didn't they already undertake this work and write a 28-page report about it? Where is Mr. Wiens' report?

And finally, the reported sentiments that "migrant workers have the same rights as anyone else living in Canada," is a blatantly false statement.

Publishing such a statement unchallenged only endorses the racist system of vulnerabilities and conditions that migrant workers must endure, including the threat of deportation. COVID-19 has amplified the severity of these issues. This is precisely why there is a movement to demand permanent residency status for all migrant workers. 

My hope, dear editor, is that you provide answers to these questions. Your readers shouldn't have to do the journalism for you.

Andrea Conte