THIS FILM IS PART OF THE JUSTICE FORUM SERIES AND WILL INCLUDE A POST-FILM DISCUSSION.
In Leamington, Ontario, greenhouse food production is a billion dollar industry. It is also an industry that is highly dependent on thousands of migrant workers from Mexico, Jamaica, and Southeast Asia. For many farm workers, the dream of a well-paying job becomes a nightmare when they are deceived into paying outrageous fees to brokers and recruiters.
Often, migrant workers come to Canada to make money that they can then send to family back home, but after paying upwards of $10,000 to get and hold onto a minimum wage job, they end up heavily indebted to their employer. Horror stories are numerous as workers describe employers imposing curfews, confiscating passports, and charging exorbitant rental fees for cockroach-infested apartments. Award-winning filmmaker Min Sook Lee’s new investigative exposé documents the struggle of a group of women from Indonesia who are living in Leamington as part of Canada’s controversial Temporary Foreign Worker Program (a program that was drastically expanded, under Stephen Harper’s watch). Since 2006, the number of migrant workers with temporary status who enter Canada each year exceeds the number of immigrants who are granted permanent resident status. Without a path to citizenship, migrant workers are at risk of falling victim to extortion and threats. With the help of Evelyn and Cathy, two tireless community activists, some of the women take a stand and confront their employer. As one worker reflects: “We’ve been given empty promises, but now we’re fighting back.” -SC