The Migrant Worker Health Expert Working Group (MWHEWG) was formed in April 2020 to address the needs of migrant agricultural workers (MAWs) in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. The MWHEWG includes participation from academic and medical experts as well as clinical and social service leaders representing various key regions where MAWs are living and working. A small group of academic experts chair the group and facilitate ongoing participation of various individuals from several different regions.

The objectives of the MWHEWG are to provide evidence-based guidance to both federal and provincial government agencies so that they establish adequate national standards, regulations and practices that ensure the health and safety of MAWs within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide support to federal agencies to ensure coordination and standardization of health service provision for this at-risk population across jurisdictions.

The MWHEWG supports and advises governments in the development and implementation of standards that ensure the working and living conditions of MAWs enable necessary public health measures to be effectively implemented (including self-isolation, physical distancing and enhanced hygiene standards) to prevent COVID-19 virus transmission while working on Canadian farms and while residing in employer-provided accommodation.

The working group seeks to strengthen coordination and communication across governments (with Employment and Social Development and Immigration, Refugee and Canadian Citizenship at the federal level, and provincial ministries of labour and health, particularly in Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia) and stakeholders engaged in health and social care provision for this population.

The MWHEWG aims to support the development of standards and procedures for health care coordination that are designed to prevent and mitigate health and social challenges that MAWs are likely to face (or are currently facing) within the context of the current pandemic, and reduce barriers to accessing health information and medical care.

This group also aims to strengthen communication and information dissemination to MAWs. The MWHEWG advises governments, agencies and health-care providers in outreach and communication with migrant agricultural workers, health care providers, and community organizations to ensure that migrant workers can access medical care and adequate information about their health and legal rights.

a woman working in the field
people working in a strawberry field

Coordinating Committee


C. Susana Caxaj

Assistant Professor, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Western University
Jenna L. Hennebry

Jenna L. Hennebry

Assoc. Professor, Balsillie School of International Affairs, Wilfrid Laurier University

Janet McLaughlin

Assoc. Professor, Faculty of Human and Social Sciences Wilfrid Laurier University


Bob Barnetson
Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Athabasca University

Amy Cohen
Professor, Anthropology Department, Okanagan College

Donald Cole
Emeritus Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto

Carlos Colindres
Public Health Emergency Consultant, Complex Health, Disaster and Emergency Management Consulting Group

Natalie Drolet
Executive Director/Staff Lawyer, Migrant Workers Centre BC

Jason Foster
Assoc. Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Athabasca University

Jill Hanley
Assoc. Professor, School of Social Work, McGill University

Eduardo Huesca
Migrant Farmworker Program Coordinator, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) Hamilton and Toronto Clinics

Stephanie Mayell
PhD Candidate, Medical Anthropology Program, University of Toronto

Michelle Tew
Occupational Health Nurse, Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) Hamilton Clinic

Leah Vosko
Professor of Politics and Tier 1 Canada Research Chair in the Political Economy of Gender & Work, Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, York University

Note:  The above names are listed in alphabetical order. The perspectives expressed on this website do not necessarily represent views of all members of the expert working group nor the organizations that they work.