Around 24000-34000 migrant agricultural workers work in Ontario farms every year, with Essex county and southwestern Ontario employing a majority of these workers. Migrant workers, as a racialized and marginalized group in precarious status, face numerous forms of exclusion and discrimination. The legal regime that affects migrant workers functions at the complex intersection of immigration law, international bilateral agreements, employment law, workers compensation law, human rights law, health law, food law, law and political economy of agriculture, among others. Effective representation involves advocacy inside and outside the legal system using diverse and multiple techniques and tools and working with a multiplicity of actors including lawyers, the community, advocacy groups, social services organisations, government agencies, enforcement agencies etc.
The Migrant Worker Clinic is an LFO-funded project organized by Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW) organization to provide legal assistance to the workers through a monthly summary advice clinic. It is unique in offering a singular place for migrant farm workers in the area that will address their complex, intersectional needs.
This clinical course will provide substantive knowledge on Migrant Work Law and offer an opportunity to provide assistance in administering the clinic and advocating for migrant workers. Students will have the opportunity to prepare legal reports for wider publication, provide support for legal education and organising migrant farmworkers in the region, and may be able to assist in any major ongoing cases if and when cases arise during the semester.
For students, it is an important and novel avenue to get a holistic understanding of access to justice organizing, community engagement, and poverty law. Students will learn how different areas of law intersect to produce legal marginalization, the policy and social environment around agricultural labour and immigration, and strategies on representing and advocating for migrant workers and similarly disadvantaged persons.
Students will attend a weekly seminar course which will provide academic knowledge and advocacy training in the areas of law that affect migrant farmworkers. This will include an overview of the challenges in representing migrant workers and advocating for their rights as well as the basics of immigration and refugee law, employment law, discrimination law, workers compensation law, and international law and policy in the context of migrant work. Students will be expected to assist in advocacy and outreach for migrant workers, legal research and investigations, and in preparing and publicizing legal education materials.
Students will also attend the summary advice clinic held once every month on Sundays in the Leamington area and support the administration of the clinic. Transportation help will be provided.
During Fall 2020, students will not be attending the summary advice clinic because of pandemic safety considerations.
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