Migrant farms workers in the Okanagan struggle in extreme heat

Migrant workers struggling

Madison Erhardt

With temperatures reaching record highs, an Okanagan activist group is expressing tremendous concern for migrant farmworkers in the region.

Radical Action with Migrants in Agriculture (RAMA) member Robyn Bunn says after labouring through extreme heat, many farmworkers retreat to housing unequipped to withstand the recent extreme temperatures.

"Their housing is so hot that they can't rest properly and they can't get any sleep. Workers tell us that they don't have any fans in their units, they don't have AC units. They don't have access on the job, sometimes to water," she said.

Approximately 5,000 migrant farmworkers from across Latin America and the Caribbean are employed in the Okanagan each year.

Bunn believes part of the negligence comes from the belief that the workers are used to the heat.

"Even if it does get hot back from where they are from, they have ways of cooling down which they are not provided here."

In an employer's contract, they must provide adequate housing for migrant workers. Bunn says most of the time housing is located on the farm itself.

"They are often isolated from the community and are out in a rural area without access to any stores where they could actually buy their own fans."

Over the past week, RAMA organizers have gathered donations of fans and funds to buy emergency provisions and is delivering them to farms throughout the Okanagan.

RAMA continues to seek donations of electric fans, hats, sunscreen, electrolytes, and basic food. Monetary donations can be sent to [email protected].

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