Windsor

Mexico aims to halt discrimination against women heading to Canada for farm work

Authorities in Mexico will be taking steps to ensure more women are able to head to Canada for seasonal agricultural work, after labour advocates brought the issue of their discrimination to the forefront.

Authorities in Mexico will be taking steps to ensure more women are able head to Canada for seasonal agricultural work, after labour advocates brought the issue of their discrimination to the forefront.

Two years ago, UFCW Canada complained to Mexican officials about the discrimination these women have faced for decades, when farmers from Canada request that males be sent north instead of females.

Despite the fact that many women would like to work on farms, Andrea Galvez, the union's liaison for Mexico, said females made up less than four per cent of the workers who came to Canada last year through the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program.

"It's blatant discrimination," Galvez told CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive in an interview on Monday.

As a result of UFCW Canada's ongoing efforts, an agreement that was signed this past March, which will prohibit Canadian employers from requesting workers by gender.

"They will no longer have the right to discriminate against women," Galvez said, noting that the change in operations will be phased in over a five-year period.

Galvez said this type of thinking was common in other industries decades ago, but they were forced to change their ways. 

"We cannot allow a single sector, the agricultural sector, to live under very, very old standards," said Galvez.

Galvez said the union has brought this issue to the attention of federal authorities in Canada, though they are still awaiting a response. She said human rights complaints have been filed at the provincial level.

With files from the CBC's Bob Steele and CBC Radio's Afternoon Drive

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