Sustaining Precarious Transnational Families: The Significance of Remittances From Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program

  • Don Wells
  • Janet McLaughlin
  • Andre Lyn
  • Aaraon Diaz Mendiburo


Accelerating flows of remittances are dwarfing global development aid. Thisstudy deepens our understanding of remittance impacts on the families ofworkers who come to Canada annually for several months under the SeasonalAgricultural Workers Program (SAWP). Interviews with SAWP workers, theirspouses, adult children and teachers in Mexico deepen our understanding of theimpacts of these remittances. They demonstrate thatthe remittances are oftenliterally a lifeline to transnational family survival, allowing them to pay for basicneeds such as shelter, food, and medical care. Yet,at the same time, theraemittances do not allow most of these workers andtheir families to escape deeppoverty and significant precarity, including new forms of precarity generated bythe SAWP. Instead, SAWP remittances help reduce poverty, at least temporarily,to more moderate levels while precarious poverty expands through globalneoliberal underdevelopmen
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