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For migrant farm workers, housing is not just a determinant of health, but a determinant of death

Poor housing put migrant workers at risk for COVID-19. A federal government consultation on national housing standards is a crucial opportunity to support…

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Migrant farm workers were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 because of poor housing conditions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Imagine if, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic — before vaccines were available — you had to share a cramped bunkhouse with a dozen co-workers. Imagine if your employer forbid you from having personal visitors, or if you had to ask your boss for permission to visit the doctor.

Agricultural workers hired through the Temporary Foreign Worker Program regularly confront these dynamics while they leave their families behind in countries like Mexico and Jamaica for months or even years at a time to work in Canada. Frequently, they live on their employer’s property. These housing conditions are inconsistent, often overcrowded and sometimes grossly substandard.

But this month, the federal government is holding a roundtable to improve migrant farm workers’ employer-provided housing. This is a crucial opportunity to tackle persistent problems.

COVID-19 revealed dangers of poor housing

When COVID-19 hit migrant farm workers disproportionately hard in 2020, many Canadians recognized the connection between farm workers’ poor housing and the avoidable health challenges they often face. Our own research shows housing conditions played a major role in the untimely death of several farm workers.

Rows of green plants with a farm vehicle and a worker with a shovel in the background
Workers do maintenance at an Ontario asparagus farm temporarily shut down after 164 migrant workers tested positive for COVID-19 in June 2020 . THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Policymakers are increasingly recognizing that housing is a significant determinant of health. But for migrant agricultural workers, housing is also a significant determinant of death.

Before the pandemic, agricultural industry groups pushed back against creating national housing standards for workers. The federal government commissioned a study in 2018 by the National Home Inspector Certification Council, a non-profit organization that certifies housing inspection credentials. The study concluded that the quality of housing for migrant farm workers lacked uniformity, and the investigators recommended standardized criteria.

Yet four years later, the government has made sluggish progress towards enforceable national housing standards.

Key housing issues

Our research in British Columbia and Ontario, including interviews with over 50 migrant agricultural workers, identified several key housing issues:

  1. Water, food and sanitation: Lack of access to clean drinking water and insufficient toilets, showers and handwashing stations are common concerns raised by migrant workers. Inadequate refrigeration, food storage and stoves were also often reported. This has serious consequences for the type of food workers can cook and store, and their nutrition. Because of limited laundry, cooking and washroom facilities, some workers spend their days waiting in line for a turn at these basic amenities.

  2. Heating, cooling and electricity: Some workers told us that on a cold winter’s night, they gather around a space heater or oven door to stay warm. In the summer heat, one worker told us that trying to sleep after a long shift is a “living hell” due to a lack of ventilation and air conditioning in the trailer he shares with another worker.

  3. Exposure to pests, hazards and disrepair: The 2018 report commissioned by the federal government found that 40 per cent of workers’ housing was reported by employers as “dual purpose.” This means living quarters also functioned as workplace facilities (for example, granaries, garages, etc.). This finding suggests many workers may live in close proximity to agricultural chemicals and other hazards, which echoes findings from previous research. Lack of maintenance is also common.

  4. Overcrowding and lack of privacy: One study reported the ratio of workers to functioning toilets on one farm was 45 to two. Echoing this research, overcrowding and cramped living quarters were among the most common complaints made by participants in our own study. During COVID-19, these cramped living quarters amplified uncertainty and anxiety for workers. A lack of personal space also undermines workers’ basic need for privacy and intimacy. One interviewee noted, “you can’t even wish your wife a good night,” without someone overhearing.

  5. Isolation and employer control: Migrant agricultural workers tend to live in rural areas far away from basic services and community activities outside of work (such as religious services). Recent farm worker deaths from motor vehicles point to the lack of public and safe active transportation in workers’ neighbourhoods. Workers have told us they may be required to bike one- or two-hour round trips to access services or participate in social events.

Workers also face explicit restrictions on their freedom. Among the rules some workers are expected to conform to while living in Canada include curfews, prohibitions on visitors and being locked into their living quarters. Workers are often hesitant to report illegal behaviours by their employer for fear it may put their livelihoods in jeopardy.

Action to ensure safe housing

A line of people wearing face masks
Migrant workers from Mexico maintain social distancing as they wait to be transported to Québec farms after arriving at Trudeau Airport in Montréal in April 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

Migrant agricultural workers deserve to live with the same health, safety, and dignity owed to any Canadian worker. The federal government should take the following actions immediately:

  1. Consistent national housing standards. The federal government should co-ordinate among all levels of government so that workers no longer fall through the jurisdictional cracks. Standards should be significantly raised for physical housing conditions (e.g., no bunk beds), health and safety, freedom from employer control and security of tenure.

  2. Proactive, unannounced and thorough housing inspections to ensure standards on paper are enforced in practice. Workers need accessible channels to report problems while being protected from employer backlash, alongside the freedom to collectively organize. Penalties for non-compliance should be high enough to promote deterrence.

  3. Government-funded housing (for example, in residential areas, with safe transportation to farms) would help promote inclusion and access to community services, while reducing inappropriate employer restrictions or control.

  4. Permanent residency, open work permits and a fair grievance procedure before facing deportation would allow workers to refuse unsafe housing and poor work conditions, which often go hand-in-hand. A secure immigration status would also give workers the option of bringing their families with them.

The federal government’s upcoming roundtable is an urgent opportunity to raise the bar on dignified housing and living conditions for these members of our communities. Canada should stop expecting low-wage, racialized migrant workers to bear the brunt of preventable illness and death.

C. Susana Caxaj's research is currently funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Her work has previously been funded by the Vancouver Foundation and Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). She is a member of the Migrant Worker Health Expert Working Group.

Anelyse Weiler has received funding from SSHRC. Her work has previously been funded by the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. She is affiliated with the BC Employment Standards Coalition, Worker Solidarity Network, and Migrant Worker Health Expert Working Group.

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Government

Who Can You Trust?

Who Can You Trust?

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

“I’m sick and tired of hearing Democrats whining about Joe Biden’s…

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Who Can You Trust?

Authored by James Howard Kunstler via Kunstler.com,

“I’m sick and tired of hearing Democrats whining about Joe Biden’s age. The man knows how to govern. Just shut up and vote to save Democracy.”

- Rob Reiner, Hollywood savant

Perhaps you’re aware that the World Health Organization (WHO) is cooking up a plan to impose its will over all the sovereign nations on this planet in the event of future pandemics.

That means, for instance, that the WHO would issue orders to the USA about lockdowns, vaccines, and vaccine passports and we US citizens supposedly would be compelled to follow them.

Why the “Joe Biden” regime would go along with this globalist fuckery is one of the abiding mysteries of our time - except that they go along with everything else that the cabal of Geneva cooks up, such as attacks on farmers, and on oil production, and on relations between men and women, and on personal privacy, and on economic liberty throughout Western Civ, as if they’re working overtime to kill it off. And all of us with it.

I think they are working overtime at that because the sore-beset citizens of Western Civ are onto their game, and getting restless about it. So, the Geneva cabal is in a race against time before the center pole of their circus tent collapses and the nations of the world are compelled to follow the zeitgeist in the direction of de-centralizing, foiling all their grand plans.

The “Joe Biden” regime is pretending to ignore the reality that this WHO deal is actually a treaty that would require ratification by a two-thirds vote in the senate, an unlikely outcome. In any case, handing over authority to the WHO — in effect, to its chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus — to push around American citizens like a giant herd of cattle would be patently unlawful.

That center pole of the circus tent is the wobbling global economy. It’s barely holding up the canvas over the three rings of the circus. In the center ring, the death-defying spectacle of the Biden Family crime case is playing out before a huge audience (us). This week, a gun went off at the FBI and smoke is curling out of the barrel. FBI Director Christopher Wray was forced to verify that he’s been sitting on an incriminating document for three years from a “trusted” confidential human source, i.e., an informant, stating that the Biden Family received a $5-million bribe from a foreign entity when “JB” was vice-president.

That’s only one bribe of many others, of course, as documented in the Hunter Biden laptop, and it must be obvious it represents treasonous behavior that will demand resignation or impeachment. As this spools out in the weeks and months ahead, do you think Americans will be in the mood to accept further insults such as “Joe Biden” surrendering our national sovereignty to the WHO?

Anyway, you must ask yourself: why on earth should I trust the WHO about anything? Did they not participate in laying a trip on the world with Covid-19? How did those lockdowns work out? Do you think they destroyed enough businesses and ruined enough households? How’s the vaccination program doing? Effective? Safe? Yeah, maybe not so much. Maybe killing a lot of people, wrecking immune systems, sterilizing reproductive organs, causing gross disabilities, shattering lives.

Of course, in over three years neither the WHO nor the US medical authorities showed the slightest interest in helping to figure out how the Covid-19 virus was made in a lab, and exactly how it got loose in the world. Lately, Dr. Ghebreyesus has warned the world about much worse future pandemics supposedly coming down at us. Oh? Really? What does he know that we don’t? That possibly new efforts to concoct chimeric diseases are ongoing in labs around the world? (You know that dozens of such labs were discovered in Ukraine as the war got underway there in 2022.) What’s Dr. Ghebreyesus doing to stop that?

If US orgs and citizens are involved in this “research,” why doesn’t the WHO alert our government leaders so they can stop it? (Would they? I’m not so sure.) And, who is behind it this time? The Eco-Health Alliance again, like with Covid-19? By the way, that outfit got another whopping grant last fall from the NIH to “study” bat viruses — right after the NIH terminated a previous grant on account of The Eco-Health Alliance failing to turn over notebooks and other records.

No, you cannot trust the WHO about anything. The “trust horizon” (a concept introduced by the great Nicole Foss, late of The Automatic Earth dot com) is shrinking. You can no longer trust any distant authorities. You also cannot trust the US federal government (especially the executive branch behind “Joe Biden”). And notice: the trust horizon is shrinking just as the world is de-centralizing. This, you see, is the main contradiction behind all the Globalists’ twisted ambitions to control everything, including you. They are working against the current tide of human history which is pushing everything toward down-scaling, re-localization, and re-assertion of the sovereign individual person.

That trend will become increasingly evident as things organized at the giant scale start to implode — giant retail chains, medical behemoths, hedge funds, big banks, you name it. The world no longer has the mojo for globalism. There’s reason to wonder these days whether the USA has the mojo to remain a unified national polity of states. Our federal government is not only financially bankrupt beyond any coherent reckoning, it is also morally bankrupt, and it has decided to make war against its own people. None of this is satisfactory and none of this is working. It’s time to figure out who and what you can trust and act accordingly.

Tyler Durden Sun, 06/04/2023 - 09:20

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International

Removing antimicrobial resistance from the WHO’s ‘pandemic treaty’ will leave humanity extremely vulnerable to future pandemics

Drug-resistant microbes are a serious threat for future pandemics, but the new draft of the WHO’s international pandemic agreement may not include provisions…

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Antimicrobial resistance is now a leading cause of death worldwide due to drug-resistant infections, including drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis, pneumonia and Staph infections like the methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus shown here. (NIAID, cropped from original), CC BY

In late May, the latest version of the draft Pandemic Instrument, also referred to as the “pandemic treaty,” was shared with Member States at the World Health Assembly. The text was made available online via Health Policy Watch and it quickly became apparent that all mentions of addressing antimicrobial resistance in the Pandemic Instrument were at risk of removal.

Work on the Pandemic Instrument began in December 2021 after the World Health Assembly agreed to a global process to draft and negotiate an international instrument — under the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO) — to protect nations and communities from future pandemic emergencies.


Read more: Drug-resistant superbugs: A global threat intensified by the fight against coronavirus


Since the beginning of negotiations on the Pandemic Instrument, there have been calls from civil society and leading experts, including the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, to include the so-called “silent” pandemic of antimicrobial resistance in the instrument.

Just three years after the onset of a global pandemic, it is understandable why Member States negotiating the Pandemic Instrument have focused on preventing pandemics that resemble COVID-19. But not all pandemics in the past have been caused by viruses and not all pandemics in the future will be caused by viruses. Devastating past pandemics of bacterial diseases have included plague and cholera. The next pandemic could be caused by bacteria or other microbes.

Antimicrobial resistance

Yellow particles on purple spikes
Microscopic view of Yersinia pestis, the bacteria that cause bubonic plague, on a flea. Plague is an example of previous devastating pandemics of bacterial disease. (NIAID), CC BY

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is the process by which infections caused by microbes become resistant to the medicines developed to treat them. Microbes include bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites. Bacterial infections alone cause one in eight deaths globally.

AMR is fueling the rise of drug-resistant infections, including drug-resistant tuberculosis, drug-resistant pneumonia and drug-resistant Staph infections such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). These infections are killing and debilitating millions of people annually, and AMR is now a leading cause of death worldwide.

Without knowing what the next pandemic will be, the “pandemic treaty” must plan, prepare and develop effective tools to respond to a wider range of pandemic threats, not solely viruses.

Even if the world faces another viral pandemic, secondary bacterial infections will be a serious issue. During the COVID-19 pandemic for instance, large percentages of those hospitalized with COVID-19 required treatment for secondary bacterial infections.

New research from Northwestern University suggests that many of the deaths among hospitalized COVID-19 patients were associated with pneumonia — a secondary bacterial infection that must be treated with antibiotics.

An illustrative diagram that shows the difference between a drug resistant bacteria and a non-resistant bacteria.
Antimicrobial resistance means infections that were once treatable are much more difficult to treat. (NIAID), CC BY

Treating these bacterial infections requires effective antibiotics, and with AMR increasing, effective antibiotics are becoming a scarce resource. Essentially, safeguarding the remaining effective antibiotics we have is critical to responding to any pandemic.

That’s why the potential removal of measures that would help mitigate AMR and better safeguard antimicrobial effectiveness is so concerning. Sections of the text which may be removed include measures to prevent infections (caused by bacteria, viruses and other microbes), such as:

  • better access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene;
  • higher standards of infection prevention and control;
  • integrated surveillance of infectious disease threats from human, animals and the environment; and
  • strengthening antimicrobial stewardship efforts to optimize how antimicrobial drugs are used and prevent the development of AMR.

The exclusion of these measures would hinder efforts to protect people from future pandemics, and appears to be part of a broader shift to water-down the language in the Pandemic Instrument, making it easier for countries to opt-out of taking recommended actions to prevent future pandemics.

Making the ‘pandemic treaty’ more robust

Measures to address AMR could be easily included and addressed in the “pandemic treaty.”

In September 2022, I was part of a group of civil society and research organizations that specialize in mitigating AMR who were invited the WHO’s Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) to provide an analysis on how AMR should be addressed, within the then-draft text.

They outlined that including bacterial pathogens in the definition of “pandemics” was critical. They also identified specific provisions that should be tweaked to track and address both viral and bacterial threats. These included AMR and recommended harmonizing national AMR stewardship rules.

In March 2023, I joined other leading academic researchers and experts from various fields in publishing a special edition of the Journal of Medicine, Law and Ethics, outlining why the Pandemic Instrument must address AMR.

The researchers of this special issue argued that the Pandemic Instrument was overly focused on viral threats and ignored AMR and bacterial threats, including the need to manage antibiotics as a common-pool resource and revitalize research and development of novel antimicrobial drugs.

Next steps

While earlier drafts of the Pandemic Instrument drew on guidance from AMR policy researchers and civil society organizations, after the first round of closed-door negotiations by Member States, all of these insertions, are now at risk for removal.

The Pandemic Instrument is the best option to mitigate AMR and safeguard lifesaving antimicrobials to treat secondary infections in pandemics. AMR exceeds the capacity of any single country or sector to solve. Global political action is needed to ensure the international community works together to collectively mitigate AMR and support the conservation, development and equitable distribution of safe and effective antimicrobials.

By missing this opportunity to address AMR and safeguard antimicrobials in the Pandemic Instrument, we severely undermine the broader goals of the instrument: to protect nations and communities from future pandemic emergencies.

It is important going forward that Member States recognize the core infrastructural role that antimicrobials play in pandemic response and strengthen, rather than weaken, measures meant to safeguard antimicrobials.

Antimicrobials are an essential resource for responding to pandemic emergencies that must be protected. If governments are serious about pandemic preparedness, they must support bold measures to conserve the effectiveness of antimicrobials within the Pandemic Instrument.

Susan Rogers Van Katwyk is a member of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Global Governance of Antimicrobial Resistance at York University. She receives funding from the Wellcome Trust and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

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Spread & Containment

Repeated COVID-19 Vaccination Weakens Immune System: Study

Repeated COVID-19 Vaccination Weakens Immune System: Study

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Repeated COVID-19…

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Repeated COVID-19 Vaccination Weakens Immune System: Study

Authored by Zachary Stieber via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

Repeated COVID-19 vaccination weakens the immune system, potentially making people susceptible to life-threatening conditions such as cancer, according to a new study.

A man is given a COVID-19 vaccine in Chelsea, Mass., on Feb. 16, 2021. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

Multiple doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccines lead to higher levels of antibodies called IgG4, which can provide a protective effect. But a growing body of evidence indicates that the “abnormally high levels” of the immunoglobulin subclass actually make the immune system more susceptible to the COVID-19 spike protein in the vaccines, researchers said in the paper.

They pointed to experiments performed on mice that found multiple boosters on top of the initial COVID-19 vaccination “significantly decreased” protection against both the Delta and Omicron virus variants and testing that found a spike in IgG4 levels after repeat Pfizer vaccination, suggesting immune exhaustion.

Studies have detected higher levels of IgG4 in people who died with COVID-19 when compared to those who recovered and linked the levels with another known determinant of COVID-19-related mortality, the researchers also noted.

A review of the literature also showed that vaccines against HIV, malaria, and pertussis also induce the production of IgG4.

“In sum, COVID-19 epidemiological studies cited in our work plus the failure of HIV, Malaria, and Pertussis vaccines constitute irrefutable evidence demonstrating that an increase in IgG4 levels impairs immune responses,” Alberto Rubio Casillas, a researcher with the biology laboratory at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico and one of the authors of the new paper, told The Epoch Times via email.

The paper was published by the journal Vaccines in May.

Pfizer and Moderna officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Both companies utilize messenger RNA (mRNA) technology in their vaccines.

Dr. Robert Malone, who helped invent the technology, said the paper illustrates why he’s been warning about the negative effects of repeated vaccination.

“I warned that more jabs can result in what’s called high zone tolerance, of which the switch to IgG4 is one of the mechanisms. And now we have data that clearly demonstrate that’s occurring in the case of this as well as some other vaccines,” Malone, who wasn’t involved with the study, told The Epoch Times.

So it’s basically validating that this rush to administer and re-administer without having solid data to back those decisions was highly counterproductive and appears to have resulted in a cohort of people that are actually more susceptible to the disease.”

Possible Problems

The weakened immune systems brought about by repeated vaccination could lead to serious problems, including cancer, the researchers said.

Read more here...

Tyler Durden Sat, 06/03/2023 - 22:30

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