Forcing migrant workers to work with COVID-19 risks additional outbreaks in this already hard-hit and marginalized community. It is also inhumane.
I support Dr. Persaud’s call for an immediate reversal of the Ford government’s policy allowing asymptomatic COVID-19 patients to continue working. This policy puts migrant agricultural workers at a disproportionate risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.
Dr. Persaud is not alone in the call. An open letter signed by more than 700 (and growing) health care workers highlights the unique ways COVID-19 has disproportionately harmed and continues to harm migrant workers who are subject to poor living and working conditions.
Migrant workers have insufficient access to hygiene and personal protective equipment and have limited workplace protections in a system that has failed to hold employers accountable. Instead of empowering migrant workers to safely self-isolate and provide paid sick days, this policy exploits migrant labour. Already, three migrant workers have died from contracting COVID-19 in Ontario.
The Ontario NDP is calling on Ford to formally reverse the decision to force asymptomatic migrant workers to work when they should be isolated and to step up with plans to ensure migrant workers get sick pay, pandemic pay and adequate accommodation so they can safely isolate when they need to. We must also support farm operators meet their labour demands while the migrant workers are paid and protected.