In its effort to provide support measures to temporary foreign workers (TFWs) affected by COVID-19, Immigrant Québec coordinates the actions of organizations working with TFWs in Quebec, among other things. The project, funded by the Government of Canada through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, has been extended to December 15, 2021. This will make it possible to keep running the fifteen projects that were deployed throughout Quebec during the first half of the year.
The first phase of the project, which took place between March 4, 2021, and June 30, 2021, will have reached nearly 16,000 temporary foreign workers, mostly agricultural, in the 17 regions of Quebec. Various actions have been carried out to support these newcomers in learning their rights and responsibilities in the context of the pandemic.
Communication comes first
In addition to coordinating the call for projects, Immigrant Québec (IQ) has also developed various communication tools. For example, the organization launched the website infotetquebec.com, an information hub for temporary foreign workers and for the various organizations that provide services to them. Available in English, French and Spanish, the trilingual site contains news, practical information, a guide presenting the various projects, as well as articles on current actions and other relevant content.
A postcard with a QR code leading directly to the site was also emailed to the organizations involved in the projects. In addition, IQ purchased 7,000 reusable masks that the RATTMAQ (the network of assistance to migrant agricultural workers in Quebec) distributed to workers arriving at the airport. Doing so allowed the workers to learn about the network as soon as they arrived in Quebec.
To round things off, a newsletter was sent to nearly 18,000 workers already here or preparing to come to Quebec, and targeted advertising campaigns were carried out. As such, while nearly 16,000 workers received information through one of the 16 organizations involved, more than 500,000 Internet users viewed the various advertisements that IQ deployed online (e.g., on the organization’s various websites or through Google Ads).
In addition, on September 21-22, 2021, Infotetquebec.com will have its own booth at the Salon de l’immigration et de l’intégration au Québec at the Palais des Congrès de Montréal. Visitors to this event, which is organized by IQ, will get to learn about the various initiatives carried out by the 16 organizations supported by the Canadian government. These organizations will get the opportunity to showcase their actions, interact with attendees and promote their activities.
During this first phase, IQ also developed several initiatives for the non-profit organizations involved in the projects, such as a monthly newsletter and virtual plenaries and webinars. This has helped forge connections between the various actors.
These meetings will have helped build a close collaboration between organizations from throughout Quebec, thereby increasing their reach. For example, the RATTMAQ distributed AGRICarrières’s promotional flyer at the airport, and the decision tree designed by the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) is available on the AGRICarrières app.
These activities have also allowed the various organizations to share their experiences and discuss the challenges they have faced. Through these exchanges it was revealed that some have had difficulty reaching the temporary foreign workers and that accessing facilities is not always easy, especially when activities take place during the harvest period.
Several good practices were identified during these exchanges. For example, maintaining a presence on the ground and direct contact with farm employers makes it easier to build relationships and show employers that the approach is beneficial to both them and their employees. Stakeholders visited a total of 563 farms. Others preferred to meet workers outside of agricultural facilities, in shops and grocery stores offering Latin American food items.
Several actions were also proven effective in supporting workers during their stay in Quebec, such as hiring bilingual teams (French, Spanish) and using WhatsApp, an app that is widely used by agricultural workers. The various information sessions also helped some workers to assert their rights, particularly regarding statutory holiday pay. Similarly, interpreter support services in immunization clinics were also highly appreciated.
In total, the organizations held 168 information sessions, 65 legal consultations and 51 walk-in clinics during this first phase of the project. This does not include the various sports or cultural activities that were added to the schedule, and were held both in person and virtually.
This financial support from the Government of Canada will allow the organizations to continue their various projects until December 15, 2021. Of these, only the Service d’accueil des nouveaux arrivants (SANA) of Shawinigan will withdraw its participation due to labour shortage. A new initiative led by the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) of Montérégie will be added to the list.