Canada Tightens Screening Of Incoming Mexican Workers

Canada tightens screening of incoming Mexican workers

The Canadian Press
April 23, 2009

OTTAWA Canada has tightened the screening process for incoming Mexican workers in an effort to limit the spread of swine flu, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney announced in an interview Monday.

All Mexican workers need to have a fever-check by two doctors, fill out a questionnaire, and undergo a physical before entering Canada, Kenney said.

The steps are being taken with thousands of Mexican migrant workers set to arrive on Canadian farms, which rely on foreign help to meet labour shortages during the growing season.

“We think we've taken robust measures in co-operation with Mexican authorities to protect the health of Canadians,” Kenney told The Canadian Press in an interview Monday.

“Someone who comes to work here – for any period of time – needs a medical exam just before departing.”

Kenney says the measure was devised in consultation with the Mexican government.

He says it's unclear how much the measure will help halt the spread of illness, and it's possible additional steps could be taken if the virus spread worsens.

Currently, workers and students coming for longer than six months need to get a medical screening but the rule change will apply to all of the up to 20,000 Mexican workers expected here this year.

Kenney called it a “robust” first step and said officials in a handful of departments are tracking the virus.

“If things change we can modify our approach. Right now, we believe we have put in place the necessary steps to protect Canadians' safety,” he said.

“If the situation changes, we're open to another approach.”