EI victory for migrant workers

EI tribunal reverses decision on eligibility for parental benefits

An alliance between the United Food and Commercial Workers Canada, the Agricultural Workers Alliance, Niagara North Community Legal Assistance and the Income Security Advocacy Centre has won more than 100 migrant agriculture workers Employment Insurance parental benefits.

The parental benefits had been wrongfully denied by an EI tribunal. A review of the cases was ordered by the Federal Court of Appeal in 2013 and the Social Security Tribunal re-heard the cases.

UFCW Canada has led a campaign for the rights of migrant agriculture workers in Canada for two decades.

Migrant workers have been paying into the EI system since 1966 but normally do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits. Until recently, they could access “special EI benefits” (including maternal, parental and compassionate benefits). In 2012, the Harper government clawed back that limited right.

The102 migrant workers impacted by the overturning of the denial of EI parental benefits had filed their applications prior to the claw back.

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