Toronto – September 28, 2023 – Last week, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal ruled that WSIB Ontario has been illegally reducing compensation of racialized injured migrant workers for decades.
The Tribunal ruled that WSIB has been illegally reducing compensation of racialized injured migrant workers for decades. The victory is part of a long struggle by farmworkers and their advocates for justice for migrant workers injured in Ontario’s workplaces: Migrant farmworkers have long called the WSIB’s practice of ending compensation to migrants outrageous, xenophobic and deeply unjust.
In an extensive ruling that took official notice of the institutional racism that migrant farm workers face, the Tribunal determined that the WSIB’s practice of ending compensation to migrant farm workers was illegal, and reinstated Loss of Earnings compensation to a group of four permanently injured migrant workers from Jamaica.
The ruling stems from a WSIB practice that reduces partially injured migrant workers’ Loss of Earnings benefits after 12 weeks by pretending they can earn income from suitable work in Ontario even though such work is not available to injured migrants.
In their landmark decision, the Tribunal said that WSIB must provide meaningful retraining and/or compensation based on the individual circumstances and labour market realities that migrant workers face in their home countries. In doing so, it determined that migrant workers are entitled to the same interpretation of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act as other Ontario workers.
The migrant workers in the appeal were represented by IAVO Community Legal Clinic, which is a legal clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario and fights for the rights of injured workers, including migrant and precarious workers.