by Anne Jardine
Local Food Security & Kootenay-Columbia Part V
Seasonal agricultural workers are often essential to the operation of farms and orchards. The hope of a better life motivates many of the itinerant workers who come here from other parts of the world to plant, tend, and harvest the fields and orchards of our region. They work hard. They have to bring in the crops under tight timelines in order to maintain optimum ripeness and marketability of the produce. They work long days, sometimes exposed to extreme heat or whatever weather conditions may prevail. Their labour results in the abundance of our food choices.
Kootenay Columbia NDP candidate Wayne Stetski affirms, “Fair treatment of workers is important if food producers want a strong reliable workforce to return each year. And there are costs involved for the producers, and ultimately, the consumers. Wages and benefits, decent housing, sanitation, and safe working conditions are considerations that must be in place and periodically monitored and inspected. If we want to have a secure local food supply, we must look after the people who bring in the harvests.”
Stetski poses this question: “How can government ensure that human rights and fair terms and conditions of work are guaranteed?”