Industrial Accident Victims Group of Ontario (IAVGO)

February 09, 2012 05:00 ET

Migrant Workers' Families Entitled to Workers' Compensation Following Deaths, but the 3 Survivors Are Likely to Be Deported and Cut Off Workers' Compensation

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 9, 2012) - The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has confirmed to the Ontario Federation of Labour that the families of the migrant workers who died on Monday in the horrific crash in Hampstead, Ontario will get benefits from the WSIB. The WSIB should be commended for its quick response to this tragedy.

But, although covered by the WSIB, the three workers who survived the horrific accident will likely get cut off workers' compensation in the near future and be forced to leave the country 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. Migrant workers' swift repatriation (deportation) and exclusion from compensation 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 soon 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.

"The WSIB denies wage loss compensation by insisting that injured migrant workers could be working in a suitable job in Ontario, either with their employer or at another job. Telling migrant workers to find work in Ontario is absurd given that they are legally restricted from working in Canada past the end of their visa and given that migrant workers have no labour mobility while they are here due to their employer-specific work permits," 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 requiring 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 injured migrant workers become extremely vulnerable to poverty and ill-health because of their labour in Canada. The WSIB needs to change their policies so workers like the three 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 migrant workers.

Contact Information

  • Industrial Accident Victims Group of Ontario
    Maryth Yachnin
    416-924-6477 ext. 25
    (416) 924-2472 (FAX)

    Industrial Accident Victims Group of Ontario
    Jessica Ponting
    416-924-6477 ext. 27 or 647-401-9611
    (416) 924-2472 (FAX)