About 5,000 foreign workers employed by farmers in Brant, Haldimand and Norfolk are eligible for health services provided at clinics run by the Grand River Community Health Centre.
“These workers are outside in the hot sun doing very manual, often repetitive tasks,” says Eliseo Martell, health promoter with the centre.
Ailments such as muscle strains and pulls from continual bending over in fields, skin irritations, sun overexposure, allergies, and eye irritants are common, he said.
“In addition to the physical ailments, social isolation can also be a factor affecting workers well-being,” said social worker Guillermo Rodriguez.
This season is the fourth year that the Grand River Community Health Centre, along with numerous community partners, has offered primary health services to assist the workers.
The clinics provide primary health care and health promotion services, including blood pressure checks, monitoring of blood glucose, medication refills if needed, and counseling for psycho-social distress. Spanish-speaking staff will be on hand to assist with translation.
Three drop-in seasonal agricultural worker health clinics are available:
· Simcoe at Real Canadian Super Store – Thursdays and Fridays from 4:30-9 p.m.
· Delhi at Delhi Community Health Centre – Tuesdays and Thursdays 5-8 p.m. and Saturdays 9-1 p.m.
· Brantford by Canadian Tire – Fridays from 5-8:30 p.m. (beginning June 16)
“These seasonal workers pay taxes in Canada and also contribute to the Canada Pension Plan while they are here, so this means these workers are eligible to receive healthcare while in our country.” said Janet Noble, director of primary care and community health at Grand River CHC.
“I was recently at a forum where the speaker noted that without these workers, our agricultural industry would collapse,” she said.