Two female migrant workers have been awarded almost $220,000 after being discriminated against while at a plant in Wheatley, according to a ruling by the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

The women, from Mexico, were working under the Temporary Foreign Worker program at Presteve Foods Ltd., a fish processing plant. The complaint was against the plant’s previous owner Jose Pratas.

One woman received $164,000 and the other one got $55,000. They were the two remaining complainants out of 39 in a case that started eight years ago. It the highest damages award in the tribunal's history for compensation to injury to dignity and self-respect‎.

The tribunal found that the women were exposed to sexual solicitation, sexual harassment, discrimination in employment, and a sexually poisoned work environment.

"I want to tell all women that are in a similar situation, that they should not be silent and that there is justice and they should not just accept mistreatment or humiliation,” said one of the women in a statement. “We must not stay silent.”

She says under the temporary foreign worker program, “the boss has all the power - over your money, house, status, everything.”

“It has been eight years to obtain justice, but eight years and justice is finally here today," she says.

The union representing the women says that the ruling underscores the failings of both the provincial and federal government to protect temporary foreign workers.

"While an absolute vindication for these women, the real take-away from the case is that the Temporary Foreign Worker Program creates the conditions that allowed this exploitation to go unchecked," said Niki Lundquist, Unifor counsel to the applicants.

"Handcuffing workers to employers creates vulnerability and without meaningful oversight, abuse is inevitable."

The union is calling for changes to the temporary foreign worker program.