When you choose Fairtrade flowers, tens of thousands of flower workers benefit from higher pay and better working conditions.
Being successful with Fairtrade flowers in Ecuador is a matter of altitude, latitude and attitude!Diego Espinosa, Agrocoex, Ecuador
All About Flowers
While many millions of cut flowers sold in Canada are grown in resource-heavy greenhouses across the country, many imported flowers like roses are used in bouquets to help celebrate special occasions like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.
However, many countries in the Global South do not have the same health and safety rules or minimum wage levels that Canada has. In addition, the environmental track record of many flower growing operations is very poor, with workers routinely exposed to harmful levels of pesticides and other chemicals that are banned in Canada. Long days of labour in extreme heat, all for very little pay and unreliable employment, are common in the flower sector.
Fairtrade first began certifying flower farms in 2001 to address labour rights and environmental challenges in the industry, and to offer consumers responsibly produced flowers. Most Fairtrade flowers sold in Canada come from Ecuador, Kenya and Tanzania.
Unlike many other Fairtrade commodities, there is no Minimum Price for flowers. Instead, the Fairtrade Premium is set higher and goes directly to flower workers. They often use the Fairtrade Premium to provide education, credit, and healthcare services for workers and their families, and to improve housing conditions.
Workers on Fairtrade flower farms have formal contracts and must be provided with protective equipment when spraying chemicals, though the Fairtrade Standards prohibit the use of hazardous pesticides. As of 2017, the Standards also implemented a base wage requirement that has seen many workers receive higher wages. In Tanzania, for example, incomes are now 30% above the national minimum wage.
While the carbon footprint of transporting imported flowers is not insignificant, it is comparable to that of Canadian farms that use artificial heat and light to grow flowers year-round.