MRO Magazine

WSIB changes how injured foreign agricultural workers are treated

Over 50 past claims will be re-examined using this new methodology.

June 10, 2024 | By MRO Staff

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has completed its foreign agricultural worker review, launched in September 2023, and is putting in place new measures to help these workers recover from an injury or illness in Ontario.

“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,” Jeff Lang, president and CEO of the WSIB, said in a news release. “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.”

To that end, the WSIB has put in place a new Foreign Agricultural Worker Strategy that emphasizes recovery and return to work in Ontario for foreign agricultural workers. When an injured person does have to return to their home country, the WSIB is also changing how it reviews suitable work available in the job market.

“Under legislation, if someone who was injured at work cannot return to their original job but is able to return to other work, the WSIB is obligated to adjust their income replacement payments to reflect that suitable and available work,” the release said. “Until now, that has been interpreted to mean work available in Ontario, even for foreign agricultural workers unable to return to the province for non-farming work.”

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Effective immediately, the WSIB said, that obligation is now being interpreted to mean suitable and available work in the person’s home job market.

More than 50 claims filed since 2007 that received decisions based on suitable occupations in Ontario will be re-examined using this new methodology. Starting in June, the WSIB will directly contact people with a claim under review.

“This is about doing the right thing,” Lang said. “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.”

More information on the new Foreign Agricultural Worker Strategy is available on the WSIB website.

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