Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2021-01-05

Harvesting power and subjugation: Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program in historical context

Document type Thesis
Author Glassco, Clare
Degree M.A., Geography
Publisher Trent University; Peterborough, Ont.
Date 2012
Pages 132


This thesis explores the Canadian state's rationale for the creation and perpetuation of the Seasonal Agricultural Worker's Program (SAWP). Informed by and building on the writing of Canadian political economists, this thesis provides a composite history of the program from its creation in 1966 to its current-day incarnation. While many scholars have looked to neo-liberalism to analyze the program, SAWP existed long before the term entered the political lexicon and instead fits into a much longer history of racialized immigration and labour policies in Canada. Therefore, though we need to understand the changes wrought by neo-liberalism, we must also acknowledge the historical continuities inherent in SAWP: no matter who was in office, and what political ideology they subscribed to, migrant labour schemes have consistently been relied onto support the state's project of aiding the accumulation of wealth and filling the labour vacuum left behind by Canadians who gained safer, more secure, and more lucrative employment elsewhere.