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Event in Charlottetown examines role of migrant workers in P.E.I.’s food system

P.E.I. flag.
P.E.I. flag. - File image

A public forum will be held Friday, April 27 to examine the role of migrant workers in P.E.I.’s food system and the largely policy-driven limitations that these workers face.

The forum is being organized by the Cooper Institute, in collaboration with the P.E.I. Action Team for Migrant Workers’ Rights, and will be held at the P.E.I. Farm Centre in Charlottetown from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Registration will open at 8:30 a.m. and the forum will feature several guest speakers.

Marisa Berry Méndez, Canadian Council for Refugees, works on issues related to the settlement and integration of refugees and other vulnerable migrants;

Gabriel Allahdue, Justice for Migrant Workers, is a migrant worker from St. Lucia and a member of a volunteer-run migrant worker advocacy organization located in Ontario;

And, Connie Sorio, KAIROS Canada, is a community organizer and advocate for the rights and welfare of temporary foreign workers in Canada.

There will be presentations and group discussions on topics such as health care, employment standards, housing access and the role of migrant workers in the economy. The day will conclude with a presentation of the strategies and next steps for action, as determined through participants’ discussion on each topic.

Paola Soto Flores, one of the forum organizers, said this day is important for a number of reasons.

“It’s about creating more awareness,’’ Soto Flores said. “Migrant workers are often almost invisible and the challenges they face also go unnoticed in the community. We are hoping the forum will help to connect community organizations and workers so that they can work together to influence the kinds of changes that are particularly needed in this province.’’

She notes that, in P.E.I., most migrant workers are involved in some aspect of food production or processing.

“The forum also gives us a chance to consider the important role migrant workers are playing in this system – from planting and harvesting vegetables, to processing lobsters to driving the trucks that deliver P.E.I. food products across the continent.’’

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