Temporary Workers, (Im)Permanent Labour

Exploring the Lived Experiences of Mexican Seasonal Agricultural Workers in British Columbia

  • Melina Emilia Cortina-Castro Sociology, UVic
  • Karen Kobayashi, PhD Sociology, UVic
Keywords: Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP); temporary foreign workers; migrant labour; immigration policy; precarity


The Canadian government co-manages the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) with the governments of Mexico and 11 Caribbean countries. The program brings in over 45,000 people to work on farms and in greenhouses across Canada on a temporary basis. According to a review of the literature, workers’ experiences under the SAWP are mainly characterized by poor living and working conditions, discrimination, and abuse (Binford, 2019; Choudry & Thomas, 2013; Strauss & McGrath, 2017). Using the province of British Columbia (BC) as a case example, this paper explores the lived experiences of Mexican seasonal agricultural workers in BC. In-depth interview data were collected and analyzed from six workers who were recruited using quota and snowball sampling techniques. The findings indicate that workers’ experiences have complex and intersecting political and racialized dimensions. Implications for policy and program changes are discussed.

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