The ‘contract’ and its discontents: Can it address protection gaps for migrant agricultural workers in Canada?

Tanya Basok, Eric M. Tucker, Leah F. Vosko, C. Susana Caxaj, Jenna L. Hennebry, Stephanie Mayell, Janet McLaughlin, Anelyse M. Weiler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program has often been portrayed as a model for temporary migration programmes. It is largely governed by the Contracts negotiated between Canada and Mexico and Commonwealth Caribbean countries respectively. This article provides a critical analysis of the Contract by examining its structural context and considers the possibilities and limitations for ameliorating it. It outlines formal recommendations that the article co-authors presented during the annual Contract negotiations between Canada and sending states in 2020. The article then explains why these recommendations were not accepted, situating the negotiation process within the structural context that produces migrant workers' vulnerability, on the one hand, and limits the capacity of representatives of sending and receiving states to expand rights and offer stronger protections to migrant farmworkers, on the other hand. We argue that fundamental changes are required to address the vulnerability of migrant agricultural workers. In the absence of structural changes, it is nevertheless important to seek improvements in the regulation of the programme through any means possible, including strengthening the Contract.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Migration
StateAccepted/In press - 2023
Externally publishedYes


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