TORONTO, Feb. 8, 2012 /CNW/ - The families of the migrant workers who
died on Monday in the horrific crash in Hampstead, Ontario could get
survivors benefits from Ontario's workers' compensation system, the
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). The survivors, on the on
the hand, will likely get very limited workers compensation benefits
because they are migrant workers.
Migrant workers who get injured in the course of their employment are
supposedly entitled to the same rights and benefits as their Ontario
peers. According to IAVGO Community Legal Clinic, the truth on the
ground is very different. Exclusion may have devastating consequences
for the three workers who survived the crash.
"Canada and the agricultural industry are quick to dispose of migrant
workers who get injured in the course of their employment. Workers are
sent back to the global south, and in our experience, are unable to
find work with their injury and largely unable to pay for private
medical care. It's an inhumane and unjust way for Canada to treat
people who get injured putting food on our tables," says Jessica
Ponting, Community Legal Worker at the legal clinic.
"Despite the absurdity involved, the WSIB insists injured migrant
workers are not entitled to compensation for their wage loss because
they could be working in a suitable job in Ontario (either with their
employer or at another job) even though they are legally restricted
from working in Canada past the end of their visa," explains Maryth
Yachnin, Staff Lawyer at IAVGO.
For example, one of our clients is a Jamaican migrant worker who lost
all function to his left hand while working in a greenhouse in
Niagara-on-the-Lake. Despite the migration program necessitating his
return to Jamaica, the WSIB told him that he could restore his earnings
if he worked in Ontario as a gas bar attendant. The WSIB then cut off
compensation leaving him unable to provide for his family.
"The WSIB's unfair policies mean that migrant workers became extremely
vulnerable to poverty and ill-health as a result of their labour in
Canada. The WSIB needs to change their policies so workers like the 3
survivors of the crash can get fair compensation for their injuries.
These workers cannot be treated as though they are disposable," says
IAVGO is a community legal aid clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario since
1975. We serve low-income injured workers throughout Ontario and
prioritize the cases of injured migrant workers.
SOURCE Industrial Accident Victims Group of Ontario
For further information:
Maryth Yachnin at 416-924-6477 ext. 25 or Jessica Ponting at ext. 27 or 647-401-9611