Farm worker advocates sound alarm about risk of heat, lack of water on some B.C. farms

Sunday, 13 August 2017, 05:49:08 AM. At least 10 farm workers — seven Mexicans and three Guatemalans — were sent home, deemed too ill to work hard, say advocates who blame smoky conditions and lack of protections for making some sick.
At least 10 farm workers — seven Mexicans and three Guatemalans — have been sent home this summer after they were deemed too ill to work, say advocates who blame smoky conditions and lack of protections for making some sick. At a Maple Ridge blueberry farm, workers said five pickers fainted this week after hours of harvesting on a recent hot day, lacking water and cool rest times. "One man was vomiting blood. We are searching for him to help him," said Byron Cruz of Sanctuary Health, an organization that reaches out to temporary farm workers to monitor health issues. And that's sparked advocates to call for better government protections, such as more surprise farm inspections, to protect temporary agricultural workers. Farm workers harvest cranberries on a farm in Surrey B.C. Activist Raul Gatica said more oversight and checks are needed to protect workers who lack language skills, transportation and fear backlash. (Migrant Workers Dignity Association / Organización Dignidad Migrante) Over the next few days, advocates are heading out to farms to verify complaints and conditions, but say systemic change is needed to protect workers' health. While farmers argue that horror stories are overblown, and bad employers rare, labour watchdogs say they're deluged with complaints about workers pushed too hard in smoky conditions caused by wildfires. Air quality has been so bad that health officials were urging people in the Lower Mainland to stay inside and avoid strenuous outdoor...Read more
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