I came to Canada to work on a farm. What are my rights?
Question & AnswerI came to Canada to work on a farm. What are my rights?
This information is for people who come to Canada to work on a farm to grow plants or care for animals. If you came to Canada to pick fruit or harvest vegetables, see I came to Canada to pick and harvest crops. What are my rights at work?
Many farm workers are temporary foreign workers. See I’m a temporary foreign worker. What are my rights?
Temporary foreign workers are also called migrant workers.
Here are the most common ways people come to work on farms:
- the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, where people come mostly from Mexico and the Caribbean for up to 8 months at a time, between January 1 and December 15
- the Agricultural Stream, where you come to Canada for up to 24 months
Employers use different words when talking about their farm employees. Some examples are farm labourers, farm hands, or farm workers. It does not matter what you're called. What does matter is the type of work you're doing. Step 1 has more information to help you figure this out.
Rights you have
Farm workers have the right to get:
- paid on a regular schedule
- written pay statements
- notice in writing if you’re fired or pay instead of notice
And you might have the right to these leaves from work:
- pregnancy and parental leave
- sick leave, family responsibility leave, family caregiver leave, family medical leave, and critical illness leave
- child death or disappearance leave
- bereavement leave
- domestic or sexual violence leave
Rights you do not have
You do not have the right to:
- minimum wage or overtime pay
- paid vacation, which is time off for vacations
- paid public holidays, which is time off on public holidays
- limits on how many hours you work in a day
- limits on how much you work in a week
- meal breaks
To get a job, you need a work permit. Most people must apply for a work permit before they come to Canada. The 2 types of work permits are:
- closed work permits
- open work permits
A closed work permit tells you:
- the name of the employer you can work for, and
- how long you can work for them.
An open work permit allows you to work for almost any employer who will hire you, unless they:
- are on a government list for not following the rules, or
- regularly offer striptease, erotic dance, escort services, or erotic massages.
Most work permits are closed work permits.
Getting help and support
If you think your employer is not following the law, it's a good idea to get help from a group that supports temporary foreign workers, for example:
- Migrant Workers Alliance for Change, which operates a phone line at 647-782-6633
- Agricultural Workers Alliance
- your local community legal clinic, which you can find by calling Legal Aid Ontario at 1-800-668-8258 or looking on their website
- C.A.R.E for International Workers, which you can contact by phone at 519-253-3526 or by using WhatsApp at 226-935-7772