Home Workplace News Ontario’s WSIB implements new strategy for injured foreign agricultural workers

Ontario’s WSIB implements new strategy for injured foreign agricultural workers

by HR Law Canada

Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has unveiled new measures following a comprehensive review aimed at improving support for injured foreign agricultural workers. Initiated in September 2023, the review’s findings have prompted significant changes in how these workers are assisted both in Ontario and upon returning to their home countries.

“These are some of the most vulnerable people working in Ontario today, and we owe it to them to be there if they get hurt on the job,” said Jeff Lang, President and CEO of the WSIB. “These are people who come to work our farms, grow our food, and contribute to our economy. If they get hurt while they do it, our responsibility does not end when they return to their home country.”

The newly implemented Foreign Agricultural Worker Strategy focuses on recovery and return-to-work programs within Ontario. Additionally, the WSIB has revised its approach to evaluating suitable work for injured workers who must return to their home countries. Previously, income replacement payments were adjusted based on the availability of suitable work in Ontario. Moving forward, this assessment will consider the job market in the worker’s home country.

“We took a look at this and I can’t justify the interpretation that was being taken,” Lang stated. “I can’t say to an injured farm worker who was sent back to Jamaica that we are deducting the equivalent of an Ontario salary that is impossible for them to get. It’s not fair, it’s as simple as that. I know that’s what was happening and I’m sorry it did. We’re fixing it.”

As part of this new approach, the WSIB will re-examine over 50 claims filed since 2007, which were previously assessed based on job availability in Ontario. Starting in June, the WSIB will contact individuals whose claims are under review to reassess their cases using the updated methodology.

“This is about doing the right thing,” Lang emphasized. “As a first priority, we’re going to work with Ontario farming employers to help get more injured farm workers back to work. In cases where that is not possible and they return to their home country, we are going to treat them fairly.”

The WSIB’s strategy highlights a commitment to ensuring fair treatment and support for foreign agricultural workers, recognizing their critical role in Ontario’s agricultural sector.

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