The website for critical discussion about migration in Central and Eastern Europe.

Delicate dances: Immigrant workers experiences’ of injury reporting and claim filing (2011)

Immigrants often come to Canada for the purpose of employment and make up a large proportion of our labour force. Yet their labour market experiences may not always be positive – new immigrant workers can have difficulties finding a job in their field and may end up working in “survival jobs” that expose them to workplace hazards. Workers who are new to Canada may not be familiar with legislation designed to protect them at work or with social programs that can help after a work-related injury.

Through a series of in-depth interviews, this study examined the experiences of new immigrants after they were injured on the job, including their knowledge of their rights, encounters with employers and health-care providers, and experiences with injury reporting and claim filing. The analysis revealed that, at the time of their injury, many workers were in manual “survival jobs” and had not received job or occupational health and safety training. Many did not speak the English language well and did not know very much about their rights. While workers often felt trepidation about reporting their injury, most told a health-care provider or employer that they were injured or in pain. This, however, rarely led to timely or appropriate claim filing. Workers were often discouraged from filing a claim, misinformed about their rights or offered “time off work” in lieu of reporting the injury to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). In instances where a claim was filed, communication problems were common, which led to mistakes being made on forms and misunderstandings with the adjudicator and employer. Interpretation services were not always offered consistently or at the correct time in the compensation process.

Efforts must be made to systematically inform new immigrants of their health and safety rights, responsibilities and entitlements as they are entering the labour market. Systems must also be put in place to ensure that new immigrants can successfully access the compensation system in the event of a work-related injury and that employers and health-care providers fulfil their reporting responsibilities.

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