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When it comes to labour issues, ignorance isn’t bliss; it’s annoying


May 14, 2018
By Marg Land


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My husband is always reminding me not to read the online comment sections of news articles. “They’ll only aggravate you,” he says, before listing off the numerous times I’ve almost had a stroke yelling at my computer screen.

But I’m a sucker for punishment – or possibly a slow learner. Again and again, I read past the end of the article and wade into the world of ignorant statements, well meaning rebuttal, keyboard comedians and blatant trolling. A few minutes later, I’m typically gnashing my teeth and muttering while my husband just shakes his head.

A recent article in the National Post had me particularly incensed. Not that there was anything wrong with the report itself. Written by Vanessa Hrvatin, it discussed the recent move by the federal government to launch unannounced checks of ag businesses employing temporary foreign workers and the farming community’s frustration at the move. It appeared balanced, presenting facts while explaining both sides of the issue and providing farmers an opportunity to voice their concerns. But then I had to go and press the Comments button.

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“Obviously farmers hire them instead of Canadians because they’ll work for lower wages,” one of the first comments states.

Oh snap!

While numerous readers responded with the truth – farmers hire foreign workers because they can’t find Canadian workers to do the job and the workers are paid the same rate as a Canadian worker would be – the ignorant statements just kept on coming.

“Three cheers for the Trudeau government for enforcing the law,” read another comment. “The inspections are taking place obviously because there have been reports of abuses. Foreign workers are being employed instead of Canadians because they can more easily absorb employer violations of labour legislation without complaining.”

Where do people come up with this garbage? Do they think Canada is comparable to the U.S. during slavery? Does anyone even bother learning about what is required and expected under the Temporary Foreign Worker program and the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program? It would appear not.

I felt for the one reader who consistently commented on every misinformed statement. “Most of the people posting here are too lazy or too stupid to know the real facts,” he eventually stated, apparently fed up with the onslaught of ignorance. Who could blame him?

Thankfully, it would appear the Canadian Horticultural Council plans to do something about the backlash and the need for efficiencies in the worker program. The organization passed a resolution at its recent annual meeting resolving to unite with other Canadian agriculture and agri-food associations to create “a public relations strategy aimed at pressuring the government and gaining the voters’ support in order to improve the efficiency of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and public recognition of the necessity for Canadian farmers.”

Based on the comments being expressed about Canadian farmers and the worker program online, time is of the essence.