Who are Canada's Sweatshop Workers?

Mexican workers in Manitoba (cbc.ca '09)

Most sweatshop workers in Canada are immigrants and women. These demographics make up the majority of the sweatshop workers because of their status. If an immigrant moves to Canada and cannot obtain a job or does not have the skills required for a specific job, they might resort to any sort of paying job. A lot of these immigrants are women who are trying to make more money for their family or who are the sole breadwinners of their family. If they have no education or experience for other careers, then any job (even if it's got terrible conditions) would be appealing.

Some of these terrible job conditions include:

* Extreme exploitation, including the absence of a living wage or long work hours,
* Poor working conditions, such as health and safety hazards,
* Arbitrary discipline, such as verbal or physical abuse, or
* Fear and intimidation when they speak out, organize, or attempt to form a union.

In a country with persistent unemployment of nine to ten percent, it is difficult for these workers to complain and make a fuss. The health and safety of these sweatshop workers are at risk under these terrible conditions. Some health risks are:

*Substance abuse problems or addictions
*Psychological trauma from daily mental abuse and torture, including depression, stress-related disorders, disorientation, confusion, phobias and panic attacks
*Feelings of helplessness, shame, humiliation, shock, denial or disbelief
*Cultural shock from finding themselves in strange country

Not only can these potential health risks affect the worker, but it can affect their family too.

 A basement where migrant workers sleep and bathe (justicia4migrantworkers.org, '06)

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