TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - April 3, 2014) - In the wake of a recent decision denying two migrant workers access to healthcare, Justicia for Migrant Workers is urging action by the province of Ontario to extend healthcare coverage to injured and sick migrant workers who no longer possess a valid work permit.
On April 1, 2014, Ontario Divisional Court ruled that Kenroy Williams and Denville Clarke were not eligible for OHIP coverage. The Court overturned two previous rulings by the Health Services Appeal and Review Board which affirmed their right to access healthcare in Ontario.
While overruling the previous tribunal rulings, the Court acknowledge the gaps in access to coverage for injured and sick migrant workers and urged the government to fill in the gap.
Before leaving this issue, I will say that, if there is a gap in the parameters of the SWAP that do not ensure health care coverage for seasonal workers who are required to remain in Ontario for legitimate medical reasons after the expiration of their work permit, then that gap should be filled, either by requiring the employers to obtain supplemental health insurance or through an agreement negotiated between the Federal and Provincial governments…
"The court acknowledges there are serious gaps in the provision of health coverage for migrant workers," says Chris Ramsaroop of Justicia for Migrant Workers. "The Province needs to extend healthcare so that no sick or injured migrant worker is denied access to medical care."
On August 9th, 2012 Williams and Clarke were among nine Jamaican migrant workers who were driving to work when their employer's van rolled several times killing one passenger and severely injuring others. Their employer attempted to return both Williams and Clarke to Jamaica after the accident despite their serious medical conditions and before they could receive adequate healthcare. Family members, IAVGO Community Legal Clinic and activists with Justicia for Migrant Workers intervened to help them remain in Ontario for needed medical treatment.
Both were employed under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP). As with all SAWP workers their OHIP coverage expired at the end of the farming season, even though they remained seriously injured and in need of healthcare in Ontario.