Organization: Agricultural Workers Alliance Support Centre & Belissimo Law Group
Location: Virgil, Ontario, Canada
Examining the Contributions of Local Civil Society Organizations to the Migrant Justice Movement in Virgil, Ontario
The Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) has brought thousands of migrant agricultural workers from the Caribbean and Mexico to the orchards, vineyards and greenhouses of Virgil, Ontario in the years following the Program’s inception in 1966. Despite the historical presence of migrant workers in this town, there is a clear disconnect between workers and local community members. Over the years, civil society organizations (CSOs) have emerged in an effort to promote the social inclusion of migrant workers and provide them with access to health care and administrative support services. The role these CSOs have assumed as service providers is burdensome on time and resources and limits their ability to work towards their other goal of facilitating social inclusion. This paper argues that the retreating presence of the state as a guarantor of access to rights and entitlements has forced CSOs to fill this gap and assume the role of service providers, causing them to undermine their potential intervention in challenging the social exclusion migrant workers experience in Virgil.