On March 21st, Injured Workers Action for Justice (IWA4J) and Justice for Migrant Workers (J4MW) organized an action to support injured workers in their demand for immediate change to the racist and discriminatory treatment they receive by the WSIB.
Check out the full press release and photos from our action below!
March 21th, 2023
CALLING FOR ACTION: 21 Migrant Injured Farm Workers call the WSIB President to demand accountability and change on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
On March 21, 2023, Injured Workers Action for Justice (IWA4J) and Justice for Migrant Workers (J4MW) will be organizing an action to support injured workers in their demand for immediate change to the racist and discriminatory treatment they receive by the WSIB.
In recognition of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination this March 21st, 21 migrant injured workers will be calling the WSIB President to tell their stories of how the WSIB process is racist and worsens the physical, mental and emotional state of workers who have suffered a workplace injury.
Last year these same workers wrote an open letter to demand change to Ontario’s discriminatory workers’ compensation system and the systemic racism they face at the WSIB. Since that letter there has been zero change and zero accountability from the WSIB. This year workers will be calling in to the WSIB because many migrant injured workers are no longer here in Canada. Following a workplace injury, many migrant injured workers are repatriated and forced to recover from their injuries back in their home country. Canada’s racist immigration laws and the WSIB’s discriminatory practices make injured workers feel powerless by isolating them and breaking up injured worker communities. Workers understand this and instead are building power through transnational solidarity and actions. Injured workers’ support and solidarity knows no borders.
On the call to the WSIB president, workers will speak on two main issues: their horrific experiences of improper health care support and the racist reality of the practice of “deeming” workers.
The WSIB Must Provide Real Healthcare for Injured Workers
Because of exploitation and unsafe labour practices, migrant workers are at heightened risk of becoming injured on the job.
Once injured, many injured workers, and especially migrant injured workers, face difficulties with improper health care support as they recover from their workplace injury. The WSIB does not provide proper funding of medical treatments and medications that are necessary for workers to recover properly. The WSIB also does not listen to the recommendations that healthcare providers provide to injured workers. Instead, they often override a worker’s doctor’s recommendation with their own doctor’s opinion. This opinion does not benefit the worker because the WSIB’s doctors have not established a strong clinical relationship with the worker. In fact, the WSIB doctors’ opinions are often given without them even meeting the injured worker.
For migrant injured workers, many of whom are racialized, these issues are magnified. Following injury, migrant workers are often forced back to their home country by their employer. The WSIB does not provide them with supports that would allow them to stay in Canada to receive proper healthcare. Instead migrant injured workers are forced to find treatment on their own in their home country. Often these countries do not have accessible healthcare for workers to help them recover from the complex injuries they suffered working here in Canada.
The reality is that once a migrant worker is injured, Canada and the WSIB often force them deeper into poverty and downloads all healthcare and worker compensation onto the backs of people in the Global South.
The WSIB Must Abolish the Shameful and Racist Practice of “Deeming”
The practice of deeming allows the WSIB to cut injured workers’ benefits by pretending (or “deeming”) that they are working and making money in a suitable job in Ontario. This practice of cutting benefits using fake wages by the WSIB makes injured workers feel disposable and drives many injured workers into poverty. This unfair and make-believe practice is even worse for migrant workers. For migrant injured workers these Ontario jobs are not actually available to them because they have been repatriated and forced back home.
For interviews and additional information, please contact:
- Sang-Hun Mun (Injured Workers Action 4 Justice):
- Tel: 647-832-1514 /E-mail: email@example.com
- Chris Ramsaroop (Justicia 4 Migrant Workers):
- Tel: 647-834-4932 / E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org