Ontario and Quebec Consider Legal Rights of Temporary Foreign Agricultural Workers and the Constitutional Right of Farm Workers to Organize

August 9, 2013 | Brian P. Kaliel, Q.C.

In two recent cases, Canadian Courts have considered the legal position of temporary foreign agricultural workers working on farms pursuant to the Federal Government’s Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program.

In Espinoza v. Canada, an Ontario Court held that Mexican workers whose employment was terminated without notice and who were “repatriated” to Mexico on one day’s notice may have claims for wrongful dismissal, and may have procedural protection and equality rights under s. 7 and 15 of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

In L’Ecuyer v. Cote, a Quebec Court has struck down provisions of the Quebec Labour Code which restrict the right of farm workers to certify as a union, and has upheld the certification of a union representing temporary foreign workers.  However, the Quebec Court suspended this decision for a period of 12 months to allow the Quebec Government to bring in legislation similar to the Ontario Agricultural Employees Protection Act which affords farm workers a statutory right to join or form an employee’s association, but does not grant complete collective bargaining rights.


This blog sets out a variety of materials relating to the law to be used for educational and non-commercial purposes only; the author(s) of this blog do not intend the blog to be a source of legal advice. Please retain and seek the advice of a lawyer and use your own good judgement before choosing to act on any information included in the blog. If you choose to rely on the materials, you do so entirely at your own risk.