BLANCA I. PEREZ
Blanca's husband died while on the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, work he had been doing since 1984. After complaining about unsafe conditions on his farm he was sent home. He arrived in Mexico in a casket, with no explanation.
It took ten years before a reporter from the Toronto Star was able to provide her with the truth.
The only compensation offered by the government was to offer her a job on the farm program. Since then she has had to leave behind her five children to travel to Niagara to support her family.
Some of the living conditions she and other Mexican women have had to endure in Niagara on the Lake in recent years is also part of our history.
Dwaine was hit by a vehicle at an intersection when he had the right of way on a bicycle. The resulting chest pain took almost 2 years to heal. He was terminated from the farm work program and has been unemployed as a result of the accident since.
In May 2012 Kevin was unable to access proper healthcare after working several days in extremely hazardous air conditions. People were warned to stay indoors several days in a row however farm workers do not have that option to remain safe. When his lungs ceased working he was airlifted to Toronto General Hospital. He remained on life support on an ECMO machine for several weeks and weighed 67 pounds when he began his slow recovery. Lack of oxygen to his brain resulted in cognitive damage despite therapy and rehabilitation in Toronto. He is unable to return to his work as a carpenter in Jamaica. Living in limbo, he hasn’t seen his two young children since March 2012.
Kemar was two weeks into his first season as a SAWP worker in Ontario when he severed his finger on a cutting device. His finger had to be reattached. The doctor stated he could only perform light duties and must keep his hand elevated. Kemar had no money for groceries and nothing to send home to provide food for his family.
They could not wait for eight weeks to pass before sick benefits were available. Coworkers and neighbours assisted Kemar and his family as best they could to provide necessities, paying out of their own pocket.
Kemar was sent home early and fired from the Canadian farm work program. There is no appeal process.
2019 - Raymond Barnes has been working in Niagara for over 30 years. While working with his employer to hook a trailer up to a farm vehicle the hitch slipped and crushed his finger, shattering the bones. He was left on his own with no financial support for 8 weeks and couldn’t afford to buy food. He had to rely on coworkers and the goodwill of neighbours. Lack of therapy and proper follow up has resulted in permanent damage, chronic pain. He has been denied compensation and cannot afford therapy in Jamaica.
Jeleel Stewart was permanently disabled after a fork lift crushed his hand at a Niagara nursery in 2008. He received financial assistance until he was cut off from WSIB in 2010. He is in constant pain and unable to support his family because he only has the use of one hand.. He cannot afford a basic education for his children and lack of proper nutrition has created severe health issues.
After the documentary "Migrant Justice" was released in 2017 our hopes were renewed only to stall again in 2019.
His case is once again being appealed the Workers Safety Insurance Appeal Tribunal .
It is becoming clear -WSIB is counting on the fact that he will die before he receives the compensation that is due.
Never Lose Hope - 5 minute video
Context -Migrant Justice documentary
Jeleel Stewart: More Than A Migrant Worker
Joseph Bryant had been employed on a local farm for over 10 years until he was involved in an accident when a farm vehicle rolled over onto his leg. When the employer insisted he return to work despite the pain and swelling he was accused of lying about his injury and sent home.
He was denied WSIB compensation and forced to pay for substantial medical bills, therapy and travel costs to the doctor in Kingston.
Eleven years later he is still experiencing pain related to the accident and has been unemployed since.
Even a good employer cannot protect valuable employees from false accusations. Racism is deeply entrenched in many of the communities they live and work in. Noel was a well respected pastor who was employed for many years in the Seasonal Agricultural Work Program.
Permanently barred from the farm work program despite his exemplary employment record of over 10 years,
Noel was not allowed to defend himself from false accusations. There is NO ability to appeal or have legal representation. His wife Juanita died the year after his termination because they could not afford her necessary blood pressure medication.
ERIC LOUIE THOMAS
Exposure to chemicals after 24 years working on a NOTL farm caused major damage to Mr.Thomas’ kidneys. Doctors determined his serious health issues and permanent damage was directly a result of lack of protection while spraying. After two weeks in the hospital he was sent home in mid-season despite his condition. He was denied compensation and had to pay personally for all medical treatments and other related expenses upon his return. He was terminated from the farm work program, another disposable employee.