A New Hope for Migrant Workers: Ontario Tribunal Ruling Provides Justice

In a groundbreaking decision, Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal has ruled that injured migrant workers deserve better treatment. This ruling comes as a beacon of hope for individuals like Leroy Thomas, a former seasonal worker from Jamaica who suffered a devastating spinal injury while working on a tobacco farm in Simcoe six years ago.

Thomas, who dislocated his spine in the accident, has faced considerable financial distress after his compensation benefits ran out after just 12 weeks. However, the recent tribunal ruling signifies a turning point for him and other migrant workers in similar situations.

Expressing his newfound optimism, Thomas stated, “I was devastated, I’ve faced hungry times, it’s been the roughest time of my life. But now I feel a bit better. I feel like justice has been served.”

This landmark decision has prompted Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to review its handling of claims for individuals in the federal Seasonal Agricultural Worker program. The ruling challenges the assumption that migrant workers are only eligible for a maximum of 12 weeks of income-loss compensation if they are injured on the job.

The tribunal emphasized that such a limitation on compensation is not appropriate, as it fails to consider the workers’ actual circumstances, including their recovery progress and ability to find alternative employment. This ruling marks a crucial shift towards recognizing the rights and needs of migrant workers who contribute significantly to Canada’s agricultural industry.


Q: What was the outcome of the tribunal ruling?
A: The tribunal ruled that the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board was wrong to assume that seasonal migrant workers were only eligible for 12 weeks of income-loss compensation. It stated that such a limitation was not appropriate and failed to consider the workers’ individual circumstances.

Q: How has this ruling impacted Leroy Thomas?
A: Leroy Thomas, who suffered a spinal injury while working on a tobacco farm, now feels a renewed sense of hope and believes that justice has been served.

Q: What actions will the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board take in response to the ruling?
A: The board has announced that it will conduct a review of how claims for individuals in the Seasonal Agricultural Worker program are handled, reflecting the need for better treatment and compensation for injured migrant workers.