Seasonal Agricultural Worker Support Programme Coordinator
Seasonal Agricultural workers have been coming to Canada since 1966, under the Federal Seasonal Agricultural Worker Programme. About 16,000 overseas workers come to Ontario throughout the year from Mexico and the Caribbean. Over 2,800 of these workers are employed by Niagara farms, orchards and greenhouses.
The purpose of this programme is to welcome the seasonal agricultural workers into our Parish and to raise awareness of their presence within our community. There may also be a need to advocate on their behalf, or to assist in connecting the workers with community services in order to meet various needs (e.g. medical care, prescriptions, etc.). Given the vulnerability of this population, a police background check and vulnerable sector screen are required.
Job Responsibilities: Beginning in about February of each year, the Coordinator of this programme will be responsible for the collection of warm clothing (e.g. sweaters, coats, hats, gloves, socks), as well as toiletries. The workers will begin arriving in mid to late March, and are seldom equipped for the cooler weather. These items can then be distributed to the workers, as needed.
Working with the Parish Priest and/or Deacon, the coordinator will assist in scheduling a Spanish Mass, once a month, from April to November, and will communicate this to the workers. There will also be a need to organize and set up hospitality following the mass, either in the form of coffee and snacks or a meal.
The coordinator may wish to assemble a team of volunteers to assist with this. The coordinator will also liaise with other Ministries within the Parish (e.g. Catholic Women’s League, St Vincent de Paul, Youth Ministry) in order to increase support for the seasonal workers and to assist with the provision of meals following the Spanish Mass.
Skills, Attitudes, Knowledge: The coordinator of this Ministry should be active members of the church community, be able to maintain confidentiality, and be respectful, compassionate and patient.
Time Commitment: Much of this work will take place beginning in February, when the collection of items will begin so that they can be distributed to the workers upon their arrival. Workers begin arriving in mid to late February, and continue to arrive in the spring. While the majority of the workers leave towards the end of summer, there are some who remain here until November.