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 Yachnin.
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.
For further information:
Maryth Yachnin at 416-924-6477 ext. 25 or Jessica Ponting at ext. 27 or 647-401-9611