A Vancouver-based organization is visiting Hope to present a workshop designed to better prepare foreign temporary workers, their employers, and community members at large to recognize any issues that may be related to exploitation.
“There was a news story from Ontario recently about modern day slaves, but what they were talking about was migrant workers,” said Jodie McBride, executive director of the Read Right Society, a local non-profit focused on life-long literacy for all.
“It’s fairly common, more common than most people realize, (so this workshop) is twofold: it will raise awareness for service providers and migrant workers.”
Created by the Migrant Workers’ Centre in Vancouver, the Labour Trafficking Workshop is hosted by the Centre’s director and a lawyer who specializes in migrant law.
“It’s not easy to move to a foreign country. It’s especially hard to navigate when you don’t know the language, the culture, and the laws, and it’s easy to be taken down the wrong path when you don’t know better,” explained McBride.
“And unfortunately, Hope is geographically in a prime position for human trafficking because of our highways. I hear stories of things happening, and I don’t know if they’re true or not, but what we do see at Read Right are women who come to Canada (with their spouses) for a better life and it segues into domestic violence.”
To address that, the workshop will talk about what the rules are in Canada surrounding temporary workers, and addressing any cultural beliefs that may create misunderstanding. This information will also enable service providers to identify people who they suspect may be being exploited.
“A service provider like a health unit or local business may hear (or see) things” that may make them suspect a migrant worker is in danger. “They can respond right away, knowing how to remove the worker from the situation (if possible), and referring them to the right people so they can get the help they need.”
Regardless of their nationality, people need to “know what their rights are … and they need to have the tools” to ensure they’re not taken advantage of.
Open to the public, McBride says this workshop, which is a first for Hope and free to attend, would be beneficial to anyone living in the area because Hope has a large group of migrant workers.
“It’s not just agriculture workers. Migrant workers also includes temporary foreign workers who come to work in our service industry, and as live-in caregivers. Annually, we have about 40 newcomers that we work with at Read Right. Not all are migrant workers, but many are, and (the others are typically) their spouses or women who’ve married a Canadian.”
Starting at 11:30 a.m., and lasting about an hour, the Labour Trafficking Workshop takes place on February 26, inside the Fraser Canyon Hospital’s conference room. Light refreshments will be served.
To attend, please RSVP to Jodi McBride by emailing her at Jodi@ReadRightSociety.com, or calling 604-860-0510.