“Migrant farm worker launches discrimination complaint against WSIB” / Sara Mojtehedzadeh (Toronto Star, Mar. 21, 2016)
Robert Sulph, a seasonal farm worker for 24 years in Ontario, suffered life-threatening injuries in August 2013 when a defective saw almost sliced his neck open on the job. However he was unable to access proper care in his native Jamaica — even though entitled to equitable WSIB coverage… “Despite almost dying, Sulph was cut off WSIB benefits after 12 weeks, and the board refused to pay his medical expenses upfront — making it near-impossible for the low-wage farmer to access care, the claim says.”
Unable to find with his employer here the modified work that the WSIB’s evaluation centre said he should gradually be able to return to, the injured worker returned to his family in Jamaica. There however, although the WSIB agreed to reimburse medical costs, he is unable to pay out of pocket for the healthcare needed to recover. Moreover, the yam farmer with a grade 7 education has been cut off loss-of-earnings benefits by the Board, told he could find a job as a cashier (more on the Board’s deeming policy)
Today Mr Sulph, represented by IAVGO Community Legal Clinic, launched a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, charging the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board with systemic discrimination against migrant workers. As outlined in a press release, “the complaint asserts that by not providing equitable health care services to migrant workers, the WSIB perpetuates harmful, race-based stereotypes and engages in systemic and adverse-effects discrimination based on disability, race, ethnicity, place of origin and citizenship”. It asks for specific changes to WSIB policy regarding migrant workers.
According to a Dec. 2015 article in Share, which discusses the death of a Barrie migrant worker and the Ned Livingston Peart case, some 20,000 workers arrive here annually from the Caribbean, Mexico and South America to work in Ontario dairy and agriculture farms.
- “System failed injured worker who left country” / Stuart Rudner (Toronto Sun, Mar. 21, 2016)
- Injured Workers Action for Justice, IAVGO Community Legal Clinic, Justicia for Migrant Workers. 2016 Mar 21. Injured Migrant Worker Launches Human Rights Complaint Against WSIB (Press release)
- “The WSIB’s austerity agenda: deporting injured migrant workers” / Samantha Ponting (Rank & File.ca, Dec. 4, 2014)