More than 100 migrant agriculture workers will now receive the EI Parental Benefits they were wrongfully denied by an Employment Insurance tribunal, in the wake of a successful legal battle supported by UFCW Canada, the Agriculture Workers Alliance, and argued by Niagara North Community Legal Assistance and the Income Security Advocacy Centre (ISAC).
“That migrant workers see this benefit as important to them is proved by the number of times every year we get calls from their homelands to find out the latest. Now we can tell them of victory,” says Jennifer Pothier, Executive Director of Niagara North Community Legal Assistance in St. Catharines, Ont.
On Tuesday, the workers were informed the denial of their applications for Parental Benefits had now been reversed after a review of the cases by the EI Commission. The review followed an order by the Federal Court of Appeal in 2013 requiring the Social Security Tribunal to re-hear the cases…
Despite paying into the EI system since 1966, migrant workers normally do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits. However they could access “special EI benefits” (including maternal, parental and compassionate benefits) – that was until 2012, when the Harper government clawed away even this limited right. The 102 migrant workers impacted by this week’s successful decision had filed their applications prior to the claw back.