The Canadian government has made changes to its Employment Insurance system, which will result in reduced benefits to migrant workers, including Jamaican farm workers.
The changes came into effect on Monday and make special parental, maternal and compassionate benefits available only to those who are authorised to work in Canada year-round.
Justice for Migrant Workers, Chris Ramsaroop said as a result 30,000 migrant workers employed under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program can no longer take leave and collect a fraction of their wages, while caring for their newborn or sick children.
He said such workers will continue to be required to pay into the fund.
Migrant farm workers have never been eligible for full benefits under the insurance system.
However, they had been able to access the special benefits for up to 35 weeks even if they were outside Canada during the off-season.
It is estimated that migrant workers contribute an estimated $3.4 million annually to Canada’s Employment Insurance system.
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