These migrant workers say they need better health-care access and language supports

Some southwestern Ontario migrant workers, such as Neil Baldo, want to see more support available for workers from the Philippines.

“We don’t have much representation as compared to other groups like the Latino group,” he said.

Baldo made his feelings known about the lack of support at the Migrant Worker Community Program’s (MWCP) health and information fair in Leamington, Ont. 

One of the attendees at the fair was the Consulate of Mexico in Leamington.

Baldo says because of the large Latino community there are not as many services tailored to Filipino workers.

“Our group here is growing, but I hope eventually we will be a big group and then we can create more programs suited for us in the future.”

A man with black hair wearing a red t-shirt and a black sweater
Neil Baldo is a migrant worker from the Philippines. He says there is not enough tailored support for Filipino workers like himself, but the general manager of the Migrant Worker Community Program says they have staff members dedicated to helping workers from the Philippines. (TJ Dhir/CBC)

“I want to see help with translation,” said Natthakan Sae-Wang, a migrant worker from Thailand.

“I can speak [English] but not really well; I still can’t understand [it]. Some of my friends don’t understand English and it’s hard for them when they go to the hospital, their clinic or somewhere that they need a translator.”

Lucy Flores, the general manager of MWCP, says they have staff members dedicated to providing assistance for Filipino workers.

She adds, her organization has also partnered with a group that provides language support for workers who speak a something other than English, Spanish or Tagalog.

More services at annual fair also requested

Jamaican migrant worker Rohan Walters wants to see more health-care services offered at future fairs.

“I came to check out my eyes, but it’s not available right now,” he said.

Some health-care providers initially agreed to be at the fair, but cancelled last minute, according to MWCP chair Martin Varela.

He says those providers services are still offering their services to workers who would like to access them.

A farm worker wearing a hat and gloves
Migrant workers want the Migrant Worker Community Program in Windsor-Essex to offer more services. (File Photo)

For services that were not provided at the fair, such as eye and dental care, migrant workers are encouraged to contact the MWCP.

“As soon as they tell us [what they need], we will find somebody in the community and we will refer them to that person in the community,” said Pinky Sabhnani, MWCP program co-ordinator.

“We’ll [also] follow up and see how that thing went.”

The fair also allows migrant workers to receive free access to health-care services, such as blood pressure tests, vaccinations to protect themselves against COVID-19, and mental health support.

“The farms where we work, they don’t really provide us with annual physical checkups like this,” Baldo said. “This is a very good opportunity for us to have ourselves checked if we are still healthy or not.”


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