Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Migrants denied EI benefits despite paying premiums

An interesting story about migrant workers has come out of Ontario. Glendon Sanchez, of Trinidad and Tobago, has been coming to Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP) for 14 years.  A long-time contributor to EI (like all migrant workers), Sanchez decided to apply for parental benefits in 2009.
(Migrants have been generally ineligible for regular EI benefits (because they are not available in Canada for work when unemployed) but were eligible for special benefits such as parental leave because there was no residency requirement attached to them.)
Then a typical bureaucratic snafu ensured. The Employment Insurance was willing to accept claims dating back as far as 1990 from migrant workers who didn’t realize they were eligible but the EI Commission turned him down, saying he waited too long to apply (???). His appeal (along with appeals from 102 other migrant farm workers) will be heard in federal court today.
The workers stand to win between $3,000 and $8,000, each. But future workers are ineligible for parental benefits (due to a federal rule change) even thought these workers must continue to pay EI premiums.
 --Bob Barnetson

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