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Palmer and Peters v. Attorney General of Canada

February 09, 2024

Charter of Rights Class Action

Case Overview

Goldblatt Partners LLP, along with Martinez Law and Koskie Minsky LLP, have commenced a class action against the Government of Canada on behalf of migrant agricultural workers. The proposed class of people to be included in the class action consists of all current and former migrant agricultural workers who are or were employed in Canada on a contract basis under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SAWP) and/or the Agricultural Stream of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program (TFWP) on or after January 1, 2008.

The claim alleges that under the current design of the SAWP and TFWP – Agricultural Stream, migrant agricultural workers are subjected to “tied employment”, a condition originally imposed to prevent the integration of racialized farmworkers into Canadian society, among other discriminatory purposes. In 2009 and 2016, two House of Commons Standing Committees each recommended the elimination of tied employment because it leads to a power imbalance that is conducive to abuse. In 2023, a United Nations Special Rapporteur found that Canada’s system of tied employment makes workers vulnerable to modern forms of slavery.

Class members can spend the majority of their working lives contributing to the Canadian economy, while being denied the benefits, rights and entitlements accorded to comparable workers, including Employment Insurance (EI). The claim estimates that Canada has collected nearly $500 million in EI premiums from migrant agricultural workers and their employers over the past 15 years alone, while denying these workers the ability to access regular EI benefits because of tied employment.

The claim alleges that the imposition of tied employment on migrant agricultural workers violates section 7 of the Charter (depriving workers of their liberty and security of the person) and section 15 of the Charter (discriminating against workers based on their race, nationality and citizenship). The claim seeks to recover damages for violations of class members’ Charter rights, including the hundreds of millions of dollars in EI premiums Canada collected from class members while excluding them from accessing regular EI benefits.

Class members do not need to sign up to be part of the case. If the case is certified after a court hearing, the certified class members will be automatically included. After certification, notice will be posted here and distributed to the class to let people know about the case.

Read the Statement of Claim.

News Coverage

TVO Today – February 21, 2024

Al Jazeera – February 9, 2024

New Canadian Media – January 13, 2024

Global News – January 12, 2024

– January 8, 2024

The Tyee – January 4, 2024

Windsor News Today – January 3, 2024

CTV News – January 2, 2024

Le Devoir – 13 décembre 2023

NOW Toronto – December 12, 2023

The Toronto Star – December 11, 2023


For more information, contact the lawyers below.



Jody Brown, Louis Century

Practice Areas

Class Action Litigation, Constitutional Law