Dalhousie Law Journal


Farm labour, report, Federal Department of Agriculture


The public has recently been made aware of special difficulties affecting farm labour. In August, 1973 the Report of a Federal Department of Agriculture team entitled "The Seasonal Farm Labour Situation in Southwestern Ontario" ' emphasized the deplorable living and working conditions, on some farms at least, of the seasonal labourers hired to harvest field crops in southwestern Ontario. Heavy media coverage erupted almost immediately, and there was renewed coverage in the autumn of 1974.2 Much less sensationally, through the spring and summer of 1974, the media gave coverage to special efforts by the government at both the Federal and Provincial levels to combat an increasingly serious shortage of farm labour. Special arrangements for the importation of Caribbean and Mexican labour, the organization of experimental labour pools, advertising programs and arrangements to facilitate the mobility of farm labour within the country have been reported in the press. 3 The law relating to the employment of farm labour does not go to the root of these serious social problems, but the statutes, the regulatory institutions and the few reported court and tribunal cases provide the legal backdrop against which they must be seen. The law governing employment is only one societal factor, but it is one at least in which changes can be made.