|A Mexican migrant worker has been awarded $20,000 in lost wages and $5,000 for distress from his former employer after the Ontario Labour Relations Board ruled in his favour in a case concerning health and safety issues at the facility amid a COVID-19 outbreak.
Luis Gabriel Flores was among nearly 200 migrant workers from Scotlynn Sweetpac Growers in Norfolk County who tested positive for coronavirus earlier this year. Flores’s bunkmate, Juan Lopez Chaparro, died after testing positive. Flores was fired after his employer believed he spoke to the media about conditions on the farm that made workers susceptible to contracting the virus. It is illegal under the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Act for employers to penalize or dismiss a worker who was refused unsafe work.
„We believe this is the first case that [the] labour board has heard with respect to a migrant worker who was fired after speaking out regarding working conditions,” said John No, an employment lawyer at Parkdale Community Legal Services, who represented Flores. Through an interpreter, Flores said he was happy with the ruling but that more must be done overall in Canada to protect the rights of migrant workers.