Caribbean migrant farm workers complain about systemic racism

Farm workers on the line

A delegation of 21 injured Caribbean migrant farm workers delivered a letter addressed to Jeffery Lang, president and CEO of the Workplace & Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) at his Toronto office on Monday last -International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination – complaining about systemic racism.

The workers had called on the WSIB President to tell their stories of how the WSIB process is racist and worsens the physical, mental and emotional state of those who have suffered a workplace injury.

They did not get to see the WSIB president but handed the letter to officials of the Board.

“We face racism because of our complexion and our status as migrants,” they said in their letter to the president.

“The WSIB considers us disposable. It pretends our workplace injuries are not their problem because we were injured as migrants. We are angry, we are in pain, and our lives have been forever changed because of our work injuries,” it noted.

“We don’t want nice words, nor do we want pity. We want justice. We want the system to change. We want to receive the medical treatment and compensation we need and deserve. We want a system that helps us as human beings, not traumatizes us further,” it added.

The workers pointed out that last year, they wrote an “open letter” to demand change to Ontario’s discriminatory workers’ compensation system and “the systemic racism we face at the WSIB.

“Yet there has been zero change and zero accountability from the WSIB.”

The delegation said that if they do not hear from Mr. Lang in two weeks they will be back at his office next month in “larger numbers.”