Sept. 21, 2012: Fay Faraday and her report on systemic migrant worker exploitation; also, the state of Windsor’s politics.

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Listen to entire program here:

Often on this program we have talked about the plight of migrant workers in Canada and in this region – especially those working in agriculture. We know they cannot unionize in Ontario, and further, that they are second class workers by design thanks to the various government programs that exist to allow employers to access the cheapest labour possible. The Agricultural Workers’ Alliance, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and Justicia for Migrant Workers to name just three are all involved in improving the lives and working conditions of migrant workers. This year has seen perhaps the highest fatality rates ever with 13 deaths reported in Ontario. So, we know there is a huge problem facing Migrant workers and a huge moral issue for all of us because the plight of migrant workers is by design, not unfortunate circumstances.

Perhaps Sidronio’s face says more about the migrant worker experience than a book could. I worked with him on a Chatham area farm in 2008 during a stint with Frontier College. (Photo: Jennifer Luckhart)

 Just this week a report was released by the Metcalf Foundation, entitled “Made in Canada: How the Law Constructs Migrant Workers’ Insecurity” authored by Toronto lawyer Fay Faraday, Metcalf Innovation Fellow, and respected constitutional, labour, and human rights lawyer, and she was on the phone from her office in Toronto.

In this segment Faraday describes the Metcalf Foundation, the creation of the report, who she spoke to, and the importance of the workers setting the agenda of her research. As well she describes the inherent unfairness of the classification of low and high skilled workers and the NOC C and D classification system, and touches on human trafficking:

In this segment I asked Faraday about the recommendations for change in the report, why Canadians should be concerned, and for her reflection on why her work is important:



The State of Windsor Politics

There are a couple of local issues in the news lately other than the CAW bargaining going on. The Windsor Star reported on Mayor Francis’s thinly veiled attempt to get further privatization of services on the table in order to avoid a tax increase. I think we are going to have to organize over the next two years in order to defeat this mayor and council. Why not a modest tax increase? Because the mayor is on a career track to bigger and brighter things someday and if he hopes to play with the big league ‘austerity’ types he’s got to emulate them in his own backyard. Yup – we’re faced with good ole’ fashioned careerism masquerading as public service. And he can argue it is – for wealthy suburbanites who never venture downtown where most people  rely heavily on public services like parks, public housing, and all the infrastructure we all take for granted.

Those same suburbanites aren’t cluing in yet that user fees are just another way to say TAX, but even if they do clue in they have faith in this dysfunctional market economy that if the price goes up for a privatized service they’ll simply move to a different provider – except how many water providers will there be? It’s a false choice and any sensible person who actually cares about the entire city can see that a modest tax increase spread across all households and businesses will be the best bet. A fair tax system with a heavy base of decent jobs at a living wage is what built the civil society we see around us, which is crumbling by the minute because careerists have bought in to the free trade market economy trap we can’t get out of – unless we change the roster of decision makers, and by  that I mean to stop relying on a professional class to take care of business. We need a more representative mayor and council and that means we have to be far more active in the political life of the city. Who’s the “we”?   – workers, small business owners, people on the margins of society, new comers and established immigrants – the ones who are rooted in the community as we struggle to make ends meet in a globalized economy.

With this council and mayor, we’re in a race to the bottom in terms of living wages and dependable services. This mayor and council seems hell bent on carrying out another coup (tax cuts and privatization of services) on a scale larger than the theft of neighbourhood services we saw in order to get the aquatic centre built. It’s time to restore the idea of public servant over the self interest of professional career climbers and look at truly innovative ways to re-build this city – co-op funding, real neighbourhood councils with true participatory decision making powers over budgets and needs.

There are more ideas  others will think of but to call slash and burn policies and privatizing services ‘innovative and creative’ is just simply a lie, and is just more of the same claptrap we’ve been fed for almost 30 years by all levels of government. We’ll have to put up a hell of a fight to lessen the damage this council can do over another 2 years.

I’ll be putting out a call in the next couple of weeks for people to get involved in neighbourhood by neighbourhood organizing which will include occupy style general assemblies where people can learn about participatory forms of self government and how to take power in the next municipal election.

Also, check out this effort by Paul Synnott regarding the auditor general situation.


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