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Operational policy manual

Foreign Agricultural Workers

Coverage
Application Date
This policy applies to all decisions made, on or after January 1, 2009, for all accidents on or after December 1, 2002.
Published
05-Jan-2009
Subject
Special Cases (Worker Coverage)
Title
Foreign Agricultural Workers
Document No.
12-04-08

Policy

Foreign agricultural workers who have entered into employment agreements with Ontario agricultural employers have coverage with the WSIB.

NOTE

This policy only applies to workers participating in the "Commonwealth Caribbean/Mexican Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program".

Guidelines

The Government of Canada, pursuant to certain international agreements, arranges for workers from other countries to enter Canada for temporary periods of time as farm labourers, to provide assistance during the agricultural season.

Rules for coverage

Coverage begins as soon as workers reach the agreed-upon point of departure in their homeland, and remains in place until they return to their country.

While travelling in Ontario, these workers are covered when

  • in transit from an airport in Ontario to the employer's premises and/or
  • using a means of transportation authorized by the employer, and
  • following a direct and uninterrupted route to or from the employer's premises.

In addition to coverage while in the course of employment, workers are also covered during periods of leisure, meals, and while sleeping in employer-provided quarters.

Exception

By contrast, workers are generally not covered or considered to be in the course of employment while engaged in

Insurable Earnings

Employers calculate insurable earnings for foreign agricultural workers in the same manner as resident workers, taking into account payments (or equivalent amounts) for room and board, where applicable.

Average Earnings

Generally speaking, the WSIB calculates average earnings for foreign agricultural workers in the same manner as resident workers. However, in those cases where a long-term average earnings recalculation is required, decision-makers may use

  • the worker's actual earnings from employment outside of the agricultural employment agreement (i.e., work done outside Ontario during the Ontario agricultural "off-season"), and/or
  • the probable Employment Insurance (EI) that would otherwise be payable to a resident worker

because unlike (seasonal) resident workers, foreign agricultural workers are not eligible for EI.

For more information on the long-term average earnings recalculation, see 18-02-04, Determining Long-term Average Earnings: Workers in Non-permanent Employment.

Participating countries

Liaison officers of the countries participating in the international migrant agricultural agreements are responsible for the worker's interests and for the worker's transportation needs to and from Canada. The WSIB's agriculture sector office maintains a list of these liaison officers. For more information on the WSIB's agriculture sector, see www.wsib.on.ca

Filing a claim

Injured workers must file a claim for benefits before leaving Canada, see 15-01-03, Worker's Requirement to Claim and Consent.

If the worker does not file before leaving Canada, the worker's liaison officer is responsible for ensuring that the Form 6 - the Workers' Report of Injury/Disease - is completed by the worker and returned to the WSIB.

If the worker is entitled to benefits under the insurance plan, the WSIB issues the first benefit payment (up to 2 weeks of loss of earnings benefits) even if the claim for benefits has not been received. However, no further benefits are provided until the claim for benefits is received, whether the worker is in or out of Canada.

The WSIB must be notified when injured workers leave the country, see 15-06-07, Leaving the Province/Country.

Application date

This policy applies to all decisions made, on or after January 1, 2009, for all accidents on or after December 1, 2002.

Document history

This document replaces 12-04-08 dated October 12, 2004.

This document was previously published as:

12-04-08 dated June 15, 1999.

References

Legislative authority

Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, as amended
Sections 15, 22, 88, 159

Minute

Administrative
#1, November 26, 2008, Page 468

Compass: Guiding you to a healthy and safe workplace