Segments in this Video

Canada Hires Foreign Workers (03:19)


Canada has agreements with Caribbean nations and Mexico that permit Canadian farmers to hire foreign agricultural workers. One man who left his home in Mexico to work in a Canadian tomato greenhouse reports a generally bad experience.

The Greenhouse Capital of Canada (02:24)

Every year over 17,000 migrant workers come to Canada to work. Many Mexican workers return year after year to work in the tomato greenhouses of Leamington, Ontario.

Hours and Wages (02:30)

Leamington's agricultural industry is booming thanks in part to an abundant supply of foreign labor. More than 100 Mexican workers at Fausto Amicone's tomato greenhouse work seven days per week, ten hours per day, for a flat rate of $7.25 per hour.

Living Conditions (02:39)

Canadian growers provide housing for the foreign workers they hire. A group of ten Mexican workers spends eight months living together on the same crowded floor of the house their employer provides.

Separation from Families (02:00)

The program that allows Mexican agricultural workers into Canada only accepts men who are married. Terms of the program require them to work for eight months in Canada; most are anxious to return home to their families for the remaining four months of each year.

Community Life (03:43)

Leamington, Ontario residents express mixed feelings about the large number of Mexican workers who live in their community. Money the men spend is good for local businesses but some residents feel uncomfortable about their presence.

Workplace Hazards (02:02)

Accidents in the agricultural industry are common and there are no health or safety regulations to protect Ontario's farm workers. The use of pesticides is of particular concern; workers report frequent headaches, eye problems, and other health issues.

Worker Benefits (02:26)

Canada's legal migrant farm workers pay taxes and employment insurance premiums but get few services or benefits. Farm unions are illegal in Ontario but organizers have opened a support center for migrant workers in Leamington. Workers express dismay at being treated as commodities rather than human beings.

Workplace Conflict (03:29)

A conflict erupts at one Leamington farm when a worker intervenes on behalf of another whose supervisor grabbed his neck. Most workers do not protest abusive treatment or harsh working conditions for fear of being sent back to Mexico.

The Mexican Consul (03:28)

The staff of Leamington's migrant worker support center meets with a Mexican consul who seems unconcerned about reports of abuse and harsh working conditions. Bonds between workers become strong and the men begin to regard each other as family.

Workplace Conflict Escalates (03:25)

Conflicts between Mexican farm workers and their supervisor increase even after a visit from the Mexican consul. Workers express their frustrations at a meeting with a farm workers' advocacy group.

Discrimination and Prejudice (03:27)

Legal Mexican farm workers in Leamington, Ontario are sometimes targets of discrimination and prejudice. A worker who has had a conflict with his supervisor tries unsuccessfully to transfer to another farm.

Messages Home (02:06)

The program that allows Mexican men to work legally on Canadian farms requires them to stay in Canada for eight months each year. The men write letters and make telephone calls to keep in touch with their children, wives, and other loved ones.

The Mexican Consul Meets with Workers and Growers (05:04)

A Canadian farm supervisor asks the Mexican consul to talk with workers about problems created by alcohol use. During the meeting the men raise concerns about working conditions and their health and safety. The consul also meets with growers to discuss investment opportunities in Mexico.

Leaving Canada (03:34)

At the end of their contracted service a group of Mexican farm workers prepares to leave Canada. Dismayed by eight months of separation from their families, by difficult working conditions, and by conflicts with supervisors, each man must decide whether or not to return to Canada next year.

At Home in Mexico (03:36)

Mexican men return home to their families after working on Canadian farms for eight months. In highly emotional homecomings one man meets his new baby for the first time and another breaks down in tears.

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El Contrato: The Contract

3-Year Streaming Price: $149.95



Mexican citizens working in the United States and Canada can face difficult conditions, even when they are employed legally. Filmed over an entire growing season, El Contrato documents the experiences of a group of laborers contracted to work in a sprawling tomato greenhouse. Tensions between workers, growers, and government officials reveal disturbing aspects of the hugely profitable greenhouse industry, including the abuse of employees whom even the local Mexican consul seems to view as expendable. Presenting rarely heard voices, El Contrato is an uncompromising look at the migrant worker’s plight. (Portions in Spanish with English subtitles, 52 minutes)

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: FMK34661

Copyright date: ©2003

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA.