Wake Up and Smell the Roses

Summer is officially here, and with it the presence of fragrant flowers and greenery. This time of year, consumers may want to add some colour to their homes or gardens, or perhaps surprise a significant other with a bouquet of red roses. Whatever the occasion, the steps to producing these beautifully cut flowers are not questioned often enough. Like the title suggests, perhaps it’s time to change that.

Today, most flowers imported to Canada come from Latin America. The working conditions for those producing flowers are far from what one might imagine. Unlike the images of a cozy greenhouse or an endless garden full of blossoms, workers in many flower-growing operations are unfortunately exposed to a number of highly toxic pesticides and fertilizers. There are also more female workers than male in this industry, but women’s wages are less than men. Low wages, no benefits, and short-term contracts complete the job description.

In comparison, certified Fair Trade growers champion the equality of salaries for both sexes, which must be minimum wage or higher. Fair Trade also ensures health and safety measures are followed to avoid injuries related to the production of flowers. These safety regulations also limit the use of pesticides for a more secure working environment. If you’re considering purchasing imported flowers, keep these facts in mind, and you’ll realize that Fair Trade flowers are the way to go!

Alternatively, purchasing flowers grown in Canada is a great way to support local businesses and to take comfort in the fact that they were grown in good, safe working conditions. Tivoli Florist is a great example of an Ottawa-based business supporting such a cause. Their website reads, “We insist that all of our flowers and plants be sourced from growers who are certified ‘Fair Trade’ and who treat their employees and the environment respectfully.” This kind of attitude makes change possible…one flower at a time.

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