Migrant workers, Ottawa spar over EI benefits

EI reforms unfair to seasonal staffers: UFCW
By Sabrina Nanji
|Canadian Labour Reporter|Last Updated: 10/28/2013

They may be separated from their offspring by thousands of kilometres, but Canada’s migrant workers say they are parents too.

That message has been lamented by a group of just over 100 Ontarian migrant workers who are taking the federal government to court, claiming they were denied access to Employment Insurance (EI) parental benefits.

Represented by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, the group of migrant workers took their case to the Federal Court of Appeal in mid-October. At the hearing, all claimed to have been turned down after applying for EI parental benefits — which collectively adds up to more than $600,000 in back payments. While the federal employment commission said the seasonal agricultural workers waited too long to file, the UFCW countered that language and cultural barriers were reasonable and just causes for filing late.