Ontario crash shines light on Canada’s migrant workers

Photo by John Lehmann/Globe and Mail

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 – Globe and Mail
ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY and DAKSHANA BASCARAMURTY

They pour coffee, care for children, pick berries and wrangle chickens – unglamorous, often low-wage jobs that are vital to Canada’s economy.

The umbrella term “temporary foreign worker” covers upward of a quarter of a million people coming to Canada from 80 countries every year. Many are recruited by private agencies that run the gamut from respected international organizations to tiny operations accused of charging exorbitant fees for the privilege of a short-term, minimum-wage job in Canada.

Monday’s horrific crash in southwestern Ontario, in which 10 migrant workers were killed when the van transporting them smashed into a truck and careened into a building by the side of the road, exposes a growing sector of Canada’s labour market that, despite its size, tends to go unnoticed.

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