TORONTO, Oct. 05, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In a historic decision, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal ruled that WSIB policy breached the rights of Michael Campbell, an injured migrant worker from Jamaica. Since 2008, Mr. Campbell has undertaken a valiant fight for justice for himself and countless other injured migrant farm workers.

In a landmark decision, the Tribunal ruled that the WSIB’s way of reducing compensation to migrant workers “abrogates the requirement set out in the Act”. It ordered the WSIB to provide Michael compensation based the type of job that is available to him in his home country, and not a job that is unavailable to him in Ontario.

Michael Campbell

Michael Campbell is a migrant worker and father of four who decided to come to work on an Ontario farm to improve his children’s lives. In 2008, after working for almost ten years putting food on the tables of Ontario families, Michael injured his back in an accident on a peach farm.

As a migrant worker, Michael is tied to one employer, does not have any form of labour or social mobility and does not have permanent immigration status in Canada. After his injury Michael had to return to his home country. His injury has caused him to lose his livelihood and his ability to work in Ontario. He and his family fell into poverty.

The WSIB’s policy eliminates migrant workers’ benefits:

The WSIB’s decision in Michael’s case was based on its policy to end migrant workers’ compensation as if they can live and work in Ontario, even though they cannot. The WSIB tells migrant workers, like Michael, that they can do at least a minimum wage job in Ontario and cuts their compensation as if they were doing that job - even though that work is not available to them.

Michael didn’t think this policy was fair. He fought for nine years to bring his case to the Tribunal. Last week the Tribunal agreed with him and said that the WSIB’s policy was not fair and not legal.

Quotes:

“What the WSIB does is unfair. WSIB needs to change its policy now so no one else has to go through what I went through,” says Michael Campbell.

“This decision supports protecting the rights of injured migrant workers and the Tribunal should be commended. The WSIB needs to take immediate steps to change this cruel and unlawful policy,” says Airissa Gemma, Community Legal Worker at IAVGO Community Legal Clinic, and Michael’s representative.

“Countless injured migrant farm workers and their families have become impoverished and destitute from this WSIB policy. This decision proves what many have been advocating for years and to no avail – their policy is unfair and that it has to stop,” says Chris Ramsaroop, Organizer with Justicia for Migrant Workers.

Organization Profile and Contacts:

Michael is represented by Maryth Yachnin and Airissa Gemma of IAVGO Community Legal Clinic. IAVGO is a legal clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario and fights for the rights of injured workers, including migrant and precarious workers.

This work was done with the support of Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW). J4MW is a volunteer-based, grassroots organization based in Ontario and BC that promotes the rights of migrant workers both locally and transnationally.  

For more information please contact:

Maryth Yachnin
Staff Lawyer
IAVGO Community Legal Clinic
416-924-6477
m_yachnin@lao.on.ca.

Chris Ramsaroop
Organizer
Justicia for Migrant Workers
647-834-4932