Former Jamaican farm worker in Canada seeking compensation
Danae Hyman, Online Reporter
A former Jamaican farm worker who says he developed a severe illness while working in Canada is seeking compensation for his injuries and for funds expended in relation to his participation in the programme.
According to Courtney Thomas, he was forced to work in adverse conditions on a strawberry farm which led to him developing pneumonia.
He said he started working at the farm on July 5 and became sick three weeks into the programme.
The Kingston resident says he was given unpaid leave from work to recover.
“So me go work and in the day was extremely hot like 65 degrees and the sun did a pelt. So now the rain come down and we couldn't’t stop work and we did far from any rain gears so we just did affi continue in the rain.
“ Later that day 'til maybe three days after now me start feel some pain from me chest go down to my belly and when me cough, me a cough blood so the third day me say 'no, I have to go to the doctor',” Thomas said.
According to him, when he relayed his health issues to his supervisors he was told he had to wait until the following day to receive a health card as going to the doctor without one would be too expensive for the company.
His wait was however cut short as he said that that night he had difficulty breathing and had to be rushed to hospital.
“The doctor them say me contract pneumonia and send to get a specific pill but even after that, me realise I’m still feeling pain. When me go back at the doctor them say the pneumonia drain something off a mi chest down to mi lungs, that’s why me still a feel pain. When me go back to the doctor for the last time now them start treat me for something else because them say the pneumonia lead to ulcer,” Thomas said.
According to Thomas, because of his inability to keep up at work, his supervisors complained about him being too sick and told him he would have to return to Jamaica.
He says he came home on July 31 and is seeking treatment for his health issues.
He believes that he was treated unfairly given his ordeal.
After paying close to $50,000 to go on the programme and spending less than four weeks abroad, Thomas says he has been hit hard financially and is seeking compensation for his troubles.
He says the situation has been exacerbated as he still suffers from pain.
“A borrow me borrow money to go over there enuh and me sick out from three weeks and me did have to use the money me have buy food to take the pills. Me never even go over there sick enuh and them know that because me do medical so I don’t know why all of this,” Thomas said.
When The Gleaner contacted the Ministry of Labour, which oversees Jamaica’s farm work programmes, a representative said it was not aware of Thomas’s situation and would investigate the matter.