Temporary worker programs are the topic of debate today

The Colloquium on the Global South is hosting a symposium today that looks at the contentious debate over programs for temporary workers, called "Comparative Perspectives on Temporary Worker Programs in Canada and Spain". It runs from 2:30 to 4:30pm at 305 York Lanes, Keele campus.

Panellists Professor Kerry Preibisch, from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Guelph, and Professor Jenna Hennebry,from Communication Studies and Sociology at Wilfrid Laurier University, will discuss issues raised by temporary worker programs through presentations on the Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Worker’s Program and its comparison to temporary worker programs in Spain.

The discussion comes at a time when Canada is dramatically expanding its use of temporary worker visas. The temporary worker programs are often used to fill low-skilled occupations in agriculture, construction and personal services such as care-givers.

Right: Jenna Hennebry

While the Canadian Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program is considered a model temporary worker program by policymakers, authorities and some academics, among critics, the advantages and disadvantages of this and similar programs have been hotly debated.

Some argue the limited rights of workers in these programs make for a system that relies on "un-free labour", but others contend these programs may offer the best of limited choices given the contemporary political economy. Each person’s point of view regarding the programs depends on the frame of comparison. The panellists will discuss the issues involved in this ongoing debate.

Preibisch’s research interests include gender, citizenship and migration; foreign workers and the global restructuring of agro-food systems; and rural livelihood diversification. Her main research focuses on the incorporation of foreign workers in Canadian agriculture, looking at questions of racialized and gendered production, as well as processes of social inclusion and exclusion. She is also part of the Rural Women Making Change team, generating research on migrant women and girls in rural Canada. 

Hennebry ‘s background in sociology, specializing in international migration, includes academic, public policy and applied research. Her research interests encompass comparative studies of migration policy and foreign worker programs, migrant worker rights and health, the formation of migration industries around migration flows, international communication and information & communications technology (ICT) development, transnationalism, globalization, global culture and racialization.

Left: Luin Goldring

York sociology Professor Luin Goldring, a fellow at the Centre for Research on Latin America & the Caribbean at York, is the symposium organizer and Chair, while York political science Professor Judy Hellman is the commentator.

For more information or to be informed of upcoming UCGS events, contact UCGS colloquium coordinator Tim Clark at tdclark@yorku.ca or go to the University Consortium on the Global South site.