Windsor

Spanish video explains COVID-19 protocols to arriving Leamington migrant workers

Migrant workers arriving in southwestern Ontario to work on this year's crops in Leamington are getting instructions in their language about how to properly act during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About 10,000 migrant workers work in Leamington's agricultural industry each year

A migrant worker inside a Leamington greenhouse (Submitted by Martin Varela)

Migrant workers arriving in southwestern Ontario to work on this year's crops in Leamington are getting instructions in their language about how to properly act during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The vast local greenhouse industry relies on these essential workers to plant and harvest greenhouse crops," a release from the Migrant Worker Community Program (MWCP) read.

Martin Varela is chair of the Migrant Worker Community Program (Submitted by Martin Varela)

About 10,000 workers come to the Leamington area annually from other countries to work in the agricultural industry and about 70 per cent of them are from Spanish-speaking countries — mostly Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, said Martin Varela, chair of the MWCP.

"The situation is that everyone who's coming right now has to be in quarantine for two weeks," said Varela.

Varela said there are two types of migrant worker programs in the country, one that lasts two years and another that lasts eight months. He said workers in the two year program are already here, but those that are coming for eight months are just beginning to arrive.

Basically the point was to reach those people who still need to go out to follow the rules.- Martin Varela,  Migrant Worker Community Program chair

"Everything has been slow,"  Varela said. "But people have started coming. It's very important for the economy and the production, it's a lot of production." 

With most International travel at a stand still, driving the points home about local directives on how to act during the COVID-19 pandemic is a priority for those that are here and those that are just arriving.

Varela put a joint explainer out with Essex County OPP in Spanish and English to explain how migrants are to behave amidst the pandemic.

WATCH| The Spanish-language video for migrant workers coming to Canada: 

"There is nothing in Spanish for them so that was an idea from the OPP to create that video in Spanish to reach the whole community," Varela said. 

He said that he is also posting information daily to the Migrant Worker Community Program in English and Spanish to keep the workers informed. 

He said that a lot of the larger farms are buying groceries for the workers to keep them from going out, but on some of the smaller farms people do still need to go out for essential tasks. 

Migrant workers in Leamington line up to send money home while wearing personal protective equipment. (Submitted by Martin Varela)

"They need to go to buy the groceries for themselves and they need to go to the money transfer store to send the money to their families," Varela said. "Basically the point was to reach those people who still need to go out to follow the rules." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jacob Barker

Videojournalist

Jacob Barker is a videojournalist for CBC Windsor.

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