More than 100 migrant workers will actually get the EI Parental Benefits they are owed after fighting for these benefits at tribunals and in court for many years.
Last fall, the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC) and Niagara North Community Legal Assistance went before the Federal Court of Appeal to argue that 102 seasonal agricultural workers were wrongly denied EI Parental Benefits. You can read more about the case here.
These workers had paid into the Employment Insurance program, many for several years, but were denied Parental Benefits on the grounds that they had applied “too late”. But there was no time limit on applications for these benefits.
Last November, the Federal Court of Appeal ordered that all 102 cases should be re-heard. The Court confirmed that the vulnerable circumstances of migrant workers must be considered when determining their eligibility for Parental Benefits.
This was a big win because it gave the workers a fair chance to access a program that they contributed to. You can read more about that win here.
Just last week, we were told that the EI Commission had reviewed all the cases and now agreed that the migrant workers should get their Parental Benefits. The decision means that the Commission will not fight these cases any more.
This is great news for these workers, who are owed between $3000 and $8000 each. Read a Toronto Star article about this here.
Unfortunately, however, this door is now closed to other migrant workers. All migrant workers are consistently denied regular EI benefits. But now they no longer qualify for EI Parental Benefits. Shortly before our court case, the federal government changed the rules to deny them access.
Migrant workers are an essential part of the Canadian labour force and deserve the same protections as any other workers in Canada. All workers should have the right to benefits in the event of unemployment. Access should not be restricted and denied; instead, access to EI should be expanded to all.
- Read a press release on the case from the United Food and Commercial Workers, the union that supported the workers in their fight for these benefits.