In a landmark decision Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) recently ruled that the WSIB’s practice of ending compensation to migrant farm workers after 12 weeks, sometimes less, without regard for their individual circumstances was inappropriate. The Tribunal reinstated loss of earnings (LOE) benefits for Leroy Thomas and the three other permanently injured migrant farm workers, represented in the appeal by IAVGO Community Legal Clinic, ruling that they are “entitled to compensation based on the realities of their lives after they have been repatriated and cannot return to work in Ontario – not based on a fictional assumption that they can earn income in Ontario.”
The decision addresses the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s long contested practice of deeming (the Board’s determination that an injured worker is able to work in a replacement job, whether that job exists or not). The ruling also recognized the vulnerable employment status of [Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program] workers, and their challenges in accessing health care both in Ontario and in their home countries. (In response to the WSIAT decision, the WSIB has announced a review of how it assesses injured migrant workers’ claims, expected to take six months, though how far back the review will go or whether it will officially update its policy is still unknown.)
Significantly the Tribunal Panel also decided that it may take notice of anti-Black racism and other forms of discrimination when weighing evidence and interpreting Ontario’s workers’ compensation act.
How to join the celebration
IAVGO’s work in fighting for the rights of injured, migrant and precarious workers was done with the support of Justice for Migrant Workers (J4MW) and Injured Workers Action for Justice (IWA4J). IAVGO and Justicia for Migrant Workers invite you to join them the evening of Thursday, November 30th, 2023 in person or online to celebrate this victory.
- In person at College Street United Church, 454 College Street, Toronto (refreshments starting at 5 pm, dinner at 6 pm)
- Electronically by Zoom live at 6:15 pm
Please RSVP using this link by November 20 if coming in person. If joining online, please RSVP any time to get the zoom details.