Agnieszka Kosny and seven co-authors have recently published a study in Ethnicity and Health examining the rate at which immigrants report work-place injuries. “Delicate dances: Immigrant workers’ experiences of injury reporting and claim filing” reveals few immigrant workers who were injured on the job filed timely workers’ compensation complaints. Further, injured immigrant workers often found their employers steered them wrong, discouraging claims, mis-informing workers of their rights, and offering time off instead.
The relevance of this article to Alberta has to do with the large number of temporary foreign workers currently employed here (about 50,000 with numbers expected to rise). Temporary foreign workers share many characteristics of immigrant workers but are further vulnerable because they have no job mobility. That is to say, they are extremely reliant upon their employer for their continued residency in Canada.
This article provides support for anecdotal reports of foreign workers being misled or mistreated following a workplace injury. One consequence of various claim suppression tactics is that the cost of a workplace injury is transferred from the employer to the worker. With temporary foreign workers, there is also a geographic dimension to this transfer as some costs of injury are shifted from Canada to the workers’ home country.
-- Bob Barnetson