A new community working group has been formed with the intention of drawing awareness to the needs of migrant and temporary foreign workers. This group will collaborate, share, and discuss potential gaps of service delivery to workers in the agricultural sector in the North Okanagan.
Vernon & District Immigrant and Community Services Society (VDICSS), along with representatives from the federal, municipal, and local governments, and local organizations recently met and plan to meet four times a year. The meetings will follow the cycle of migrant workers from recruitment, arrival in the North Okanagan, and employment over the summer months. The group will work collaboratively to discuss reports on working conditions, employer compliance and identify additional needs for both employees and employers.
“The North Okanagan relies heavily on migrant workers and we believe we have an opportunity to make positive impacts on these workers, employers and the agricultural industry in this region,” said Philipp Gruner, CEO of VDICSS. “While our agency is currently providing some services to migrant workers and newcomers in the area, we have recently applied for funding that would allow us to expand our service offerings and employ an Outreach Worker. This person would be dedicated to supporting migrant workers and employers who employ temporary foreign workers.”
Future discussions with the working group will include how the community can provide culturally sensitive practices, awareness and recognizing racism, ensuring equality, equity, and respect for the individuals, and promoting a positive experience while workers are in the North Okanagan.
Gruner continued, “We look forward to working collaboratively with the partners and stakeholders in this group to ensure we protect the dignity and humanity of migrant workers and their right to fair labour practices, as well as assisting employers by educating them of their roles and responsibilities.”
In addition to this community working group, VDICSS was also recently invited to a discussion with MP Mel Arnold, Ontario Tory MP David Epp, and Vernon-Monashee MLA Eric Foster to share and collaborate on best practices and improvement ideas for migrant workers.