Law and Order

UN finds Canada and Ontario violate human rights

 An agency of the United Nations has ruled a ban on farm unions violates the human rights of Ontario’s 100,000 migrant and domestic farm workers 

GENEVA – November 18, 2010 – The UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) has ruled that Canada and Ontario, through Ontario’s ban on farm unions, violate the human rights of the more than 100,000 migrant and domestic agriculture workers in that province.

It follows a complaint filed in March 2009 by UFCW Canada — the country’s largest private-sector union and a leading advocate for farm workers’ rights for over two decades. The ILO is the United Nations agency responsible for formulating international labour standards including basic labour rights.

“The ILO has sent a clear message to the Canadian and Ontario governments that Ontario must end its blatant abuse of the rights of the workers who grow and harvest our food,” says Wayne Hanley, the national president of UFCW Canada.  “These are farm workers, not farm animals, and people have human rights including the right to collective bargaining.”

The ILO ruling was handed down in Geneva (

It found that Ontario’s Agricultural Employees Act, 2002 (AEPA) which denies all Ontario agriculture workers the right to join a union and engage in collective bargaining is a violation of human rights under two United Nation’s conventions:  Convention No. 87 – Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, and Convention No. 98 – Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining.  

Canada is a signatory to Convention 87 and supported Convention 98, “so you would expect a federal government that bid to get on the UN Security Council would have the integrity to follow up on the UN conventions,” said the UFCW Canada president. “The feds can say it’s a provincial matter but the reality is that both the Harper and McGuinty governments are partners with the farm lobby in plowing under the human rights of people doing some of the hardest and most dangerous work there is.”


Stan Raper,
National Co-ordinator
Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA)
416.675.1104 x2232
416.523.0937 cell

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