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Mexico to Canada: Fair recruitment in review

Every year, Canada issues more than 30,000 temporary work permits to Mexican nationals, who comprise approximately 10 % of Canada’s migrant workforce. The majority are agricultural workers recruited through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) - called the PTAT in Mexico - that has been in place for nearly half a century. These workers, 96% of whom are men, travel to and from Canada each year as part of the popular scheme that the Mexican government administers with Canadian employers. Salaries for SAWP workers, which are slightly above the Canadian minimum wage, are considerably higher than the minimum wage for Mexican migrant workers.

In recent years, the Mexican government has focused more on its policies on inward and transit migration than emigration. SAWP, a government-managed programme that provides consistent remittances, is a slight exception, and the government devotes attention to its administration and to the annual review meeting with Canada. This investment stands in stark contrast to its efforts in regulating recruitment to the United States, where - despite Mexican lobbying - there is no bilateral programme for labour migration, and informal Mexican private recruiters operate in a loosely regulated space, placing workers at risk of serious abuse in the migration process.

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