Tashoy is a migrant worker in Ontario who was injured on the job a few years ago. His hand was crushed in a piece of machinery used to pack cucumbers.
Justice for Migrant Workers is asking people with the means to donate to Tashoy to support his and his family’s living expenses. Donating in solidarity with migrant workers is a concrete way to express gratitude for migrant members of our community who grow food and other crops. Supporting struggles for Indigenous sovereignty and land repatriation is also an important way to mark this date.
Migrant workers hired through the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program pay taxes that support the social safety net — just like Canadian citizens and permanent residents. However, if they become ill or injured on the job, it can be very difficult for migrant agricultural workers to access the same benefits as Canadians because they are deportable and have visas that are ‘tied’ to one employer.
It’s been a few years since Tashoy’s injury and he is still fighting – the system is designed to prevent migrant workers from getting justice.
Harvest season brings a bounty of fresh produce and other agricultural crops to people in Canada, along with countries that import Canadian goods. Simultaneously, Canadian agriculture is rife with unsafe working conditions for farm workers who pick those vegetables, with unique risks for migrant workers. This is the time of year when we see countless workers like Tashoy get injured on the job; in some instances they are repatriated by their employers with no grievance mechanism.
If you can, please donate in solidarity with Tashoy here by 18 October!
Ralston injured his knee in June 2017 while picking berries. Even though the WSIB is supposed to protect injured workers, under Teahen’s leadership, they:
Refused to recognize Ralston’s accident
Conducted interviews with Ralston’s co-workers while the employer was in the room (i.e. a chilling effect)
When migrant workers become sick or injured on the job, they know they could be sent home before accessing the full medical care to which they’re entitled. Consequently, they often downplay workplace injuries. Similarly, co-workers who are called upon as witnesses often fear speaking out against their bosses.
Ralston Maise with allies at WSIB. Photo: Rebecca Gerster.
If the WSIB had accounted for these realities, Ralston’s life would be much better: he could have recovered and made a decent life for himself and his family. Instead, Ralston is now dependent on the generosity of others for housing, has trouble putting food on the table, and cannot get medical care for his injury.
On November 23rd, 2018, Ralston led a delegation with dozens of concerned community members to demand fairness and compensation for his injuries. WSIB refused our request to send a decision maker to address our concerns. Instead, our delegation was met with a public relations representative.
To date, no steps have been taken to address concerns raised by Ralston and the community.
On December 10th, please take a minute to tell Tom Teahen c/o Steve Jackson that Ralston Maise deserves fairness from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
Call him at (416) 344-4320 and/or email him at email@example.com.
If you don’t receive this call-to-action until a few days later, it’s still fine to call or phone. 🙂
To: (416) 344-4320
Hello Mr. Jackson. I have a message for Mr. Teahen.
My name is ____ . I’m calling from ____(city or organization) to
express my deep concern about how the WSIB is treating Ralston Maise,
a migrant worker who was injured at work last year. The WSIB denied
his claim and ignored the fact that migrant workers often downplay
injuries for fear of repatriation. I urge the WSIB to immediately
provide fair compensation to Ralston and change the system so that it
better protects injured migrant workers. Thank you.
Sample Email – please CC firstname.lastname@example.org
Dear Mr. Teahen,
I would like to express my deep concern about how the WSIB is treating
The WSIB refused to recognize Ralston’s accident and ignored the fact
that migrant workers often downplay their injuries for fear of
repatriation and permanent removal from the Seasonal Agricultural
Worker Program. It then interviewed Ralston’s co-workers while the
employer was in the room with no regard for the consequences they face
if they speak out against their employer.
The WSIB is well aware of these issues but has not taken sufficient
steps to address them. By failing to do so, the WSIB is denying
migrant workers equitable access to the workers’ compensation system.
I urge you to immediately:
1. Provide fair compensation for Ralston Maise;
2. Train WSIB's eligibility adjudicators to take into consideration
the unique vulnerabilities faced by migrant workers in their decision
3. Strengthen protections for witnesses so that they are not put at
risk for telling the truth; and
4. Work with migrant workers and their advocates to take immediate
and concrete steps to address the WSIB’s institutionalized racism.
I look forward to seeing these changes in effect and to receiving
April 28 marks the Day of Mourning, and workers across the world are taking the time to honour our comrades killed at work.
Migrant workers and their allies join today to demand an end to dangerous, demeaning and dehumanizing work, and an end to unsafe practices that result in injury and death. Justicia for Migrant Workers wants to highlight the particular vulnerabilities faced by migrants employed under temporary foreign worker programs in Canada.
Being tied to an employer and under constant threat of repatriation means that migrant workers are at particular risk of being employed under unsafe conditions. If migrant workers are injured on the job in Canada, they are often treated as disposable, denied access to the health care and workplace compensation to which they’re entitled, and sent home. Despite our consistent calls for changes to our labour laws, there has never been a Coroner’s inquest to investigate the death of a migrant farm worker who died on the job in Canada.
Ontario, for example, has continued to exempt farm workers from protections available to most other workers in the province. Current regulations place workers at the risk of exposure to pesticides and other agro-chemicals, confined spaces, heat stress, and working at dangerous heights.
While we mourn the deaths of our friends, comrades and loved ones, today is a call to action to recognize one workplace death as one death too many. Let’s organize together to build power, to build strength, and to build our resistance against dangerous and deadly working conditions. We owe it to those who have passed, to their loved ones, and to future generations to ensure farm workplaces uphold the highest standards of safety and dignity for all.
Migrant worker Leon Ferguson at a rally in Ottawa in 2016 as part of J4MW’s Harvesting Freedom caravan.
We are writing with an urgent financial appeal to cover the costs of a MRI for an injured migrant farm worker from Jamaica. We are seeking to raise $1500. All monies donated will be used to cover the costs of the MRI and travel to medical appointments.
We are writing to ask for your solidarity and support for an injured migrant worker who desperately needs some assistance to stay in his home.
In 2014, this gentleman seriously injured his back and leg while working on a farm in Ontario. His employer repatriated him to Jamaica with no notice, waking him up at 1 am and giving him 10 minutes to pack his things before sending him on a flight back home. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) then cut off his compensation, as they do regularly to migrant workers, forcing him to fend for himself.
He has lost so much since his workplace injury. His financial situation prevents him from getting the health care treatment he needs, and he struggles to put food on the table. Now, his landlord is trying to evict him and he needs some financial support in order to fend off the eviction.
The hope is that the WSIB will step up and provide some support, but this will take time. For right now, he needs some help to stay in his home and get him through this tough period.
Justicia for Migrant Workers is making this urgent appeal:
Thanks to the 45 people who donated in solidarity with injured migrant worker Kevon Smith over the past three days, the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) felt intense pressure to re-examine Kevon’s case. They have now allowed full compensation while he waits for his surgery. Kevon is grateful for everyone’s show of solidarity and generosity. The fundraiser is now closed.
But helping injured workers should never be a matter of charity.
Kevon should never have been obligated to make a desperate and public appeal for funds. The WSIB should have done the right thing before this public pressure. Beyond Kevon’s case, the WSIB continues to deny hundreds of injured workers the support they critically need and deserve.
Please email the office of the President of WSIB. Tell him:
Workers are not disposable;
The WSIB should ensure they give injured migrant workers like Kevon the choice and the financial means to stay in Ontario for health care for their workplace injuries.
Please send emails to Tom Teahen, President and CEO, via Steve Jackson: Steve_jackson@wsib.on.ca. Please feel free to CC us: email@example.com.
We are calling on supporters of Justice for Migrant Workers to please show solidarity through your material resources through the following Go Fund Me campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/helpforkevon
Kevon Smith, a migrant worker and father of five, suffered serious injuries while working on a apple farm near Simcoe, Ontario.
After his workplace injury, Kevon’s employer attempted to send him back to Trinidad and Tobago. Kevon knew this was not right, resisted and remained in Canada to access health care for his injuries and fight for workers’ compensation from the WSIB.
Kevon’s doctors told him he will likely need surgery, but WSIB still refuses to provide him the financial support that would enable him to get it.
IAVGO Community Legal Clinic is helping Kevon challenge this unfair decision, but his status as a migrant worker excludes him from accessing other forms of income support programs. This means that at the moment he is far from home, severely injured and virtually penniless.
We are asking if you can provide some financial support as soon as possible to help Kevon with living costs through this crisis. He needs the funds now and will be able to access it within days of your donation.
Kevon is the sole breadwinner for himself and his young family. This crisis has made them destitute. Your support is greatly appreciated.
This is Ned Peart. He was crushed to death by a tobacco kiln while working as a migrant farmworker in Ontario. His family together with Justicia for Migrant Workers have been fighting for over 10 years to change the laws so these kinds of accidents don’t happen again.
The hearing for his case was scheduled for March but was postponed until the Fall of 2016. We will need your support then and we will keep you updated! Help us pack the courtroom and also show our support to Mr. Peart’s family!