Migrant Workers Await Justice as Charges laid against Scotlynn Farms

By: Shazia Nazir
Ontario’s Ministry of Labour has laid 20 charges against Scotlynn SweetPac and owner Scott Biddle.  The actions follow COVID-19 outbreak where 199 workers tested positive, and the death migrant farmworker Juan Lopez Chaparro.
Gabriel Flores worked at Scotlynn Farms was among those who tested positive for COVID-19.  He spoke to the Toronto Star regarding substandard housing, and working conditions.  He was fired after speaking to the media. “These charges are not enough.  There need to be systemic changes to the laws to make sure the workers can safely defend themselves against bad employers.  That change begins with permanent status on arrival so that migrants can access the same rights, protections and essential services as anyone else,” Flores said of the charges.  Flores brought a complaint against his former employer to the Labour Relations board, and won in November, 2020.
“Migrant workers deserve more attention, to not be forgotten, to work in decent conditions and know they will be reunited with their families,” Chaparro’s widow Agustina Galindo Segundo said.
Migrant workers Alliance for Change protested in August through a march on Ottawa fighting for permanent residency for workers.  “In his last government, Prime Minister Trudeau promised to ‘do better by migrant workers.  It is time for this new government to act,  once and for all and do the only thing that will prevent these tragedies- and that is ensure full and permanent immigration status for all immediately,” group spokeswoman Karen Cocque said.  The group fears the inequality will deny up to 1.6 million (or 1 in 23 residents) people their rights to services such as healthcare.