Mario Délisle addressing the Québec Labour Standards Commission.
This year the Québec Labour Standards Commission (CNT) held a conference to determine whether certain aspects of the Labour Standards Act need to be revised. Prior to the conference, the CNT conducted an inquest in 2010 that analyzed the extent to which the Act is being respected by employers. The inquest studied the strategies that employers are using to address labour shortages and found that, by devising new methods of hiring and classifying workers, employers have discovered ways to avoid their responsibilities under the Labour Standards Act.
Two examples are the federal government's Temporary Foreign Worker programs and the increasing tendency of employers to use employment agencies to recruit temporary and migrant workers.
Speaking at the CNT conference, Mario Délisle, secretary treasurer of UFCW Canada Local 501 addressed the current struggle of temporary foreign agricultural workers in Québec. He denounced the fact that foreign workers are not made aware of their employment rights and cannot access information on these rights from a reliable, independent source. In response to this problem, the Labour Standards Commission collaborated with the province's Occupational Health and Safety Commission and Human Rights Commission to develop a video that explains agricultural workers' rights in Spanish. The video was released this past June.
According to Louis Bolduc, Executive Assistant to National President Hanley, "the Labour Standards Commission has been very helpful in trying to improve the situation of temporary foreign agricultural workers and is aware that quite often their rights are violated by employers." Bolduc also sits on the CNT's board of directors and says that "as long as the right of these workers to return to and work in Quebec is not protected, they will always be fearful of raising issues with their employer or filing complaints. That is why we need to pressure employers and governments to improve the rights and working conditions of foreign agricultural workers in Quebec and across Canada."