Mexicans fill farm work void
Mexicans fill farm-work void
By Aaron Paton - Staff reporter
Armando Santiago Ana works at Kahlon Farms in Abbotsford, just a stone's throw from the Canada-U.S. border. Each day he picks raspberries, helps with farming and saves money to support his family at home in Mexico.
"They treat us well here and it's very beneficial for me to work here in Canada," he said in Spanish. "I prefer to work in Canada than the United States . . . I'm saving to build a house in Mexico."
Last summer, there were about 17,000 migrant workers in Canada and about 10,000 of them were from Mexico. A pilot project introduced in May of last year - the Seasonal Agriculture Worker Program - invited just 47 Mexican farmers into B.C. to help with the busy summer harvest. This year, Santiago Ana is one of about 400 Mexicans accepted into the province.
For the past five or six years, attracting steady workers has been difficult for farm owners like the Kahlon family. Often there aren't enough hands to pick berries and crops can be lost. Sukh Kahlon, part owner of Kahlon Farms, said Mexican immigrants have been helpful in keeping up production.