Media - injured workers in the news

Media coverage, photos/video and press releases on injured workers' issues.


August 6, 2014:
Injured workers hold demonstration to raise awareness (Manitoulin Expositor)
Members of the MNIWG (Manitoulin North Shore Injured Workers Group) held a rally at the Kagawong Summer Fest to protest workers being ignored by "the system"” with claims denied based on pre-existing conditions...


July 4, 2014:
"WSIB column doesn't tell full story [Letter]" ⁄ Gordon Wilson (Toronto Star)
OFL's Past President points to a strategy which compliments the denial of benefits outlined in Odoardo di Santos' commentary (June 27) - "reduce workplace costs by implementing cost saving ineffective Health and Safety prevention programs." Letter refers to pressure placed on such widely-recognized training organizations as the Workers Health and Safety Centre to address employer rather than worker priorities.


July 4, 2014:
"Support for Ontario's injured workers is stronger than ever" ⁄ Kate Lamb (Toronto Star)
WSIB's Chief of Corporate Services responds with an official rebuttal to commentary (June 27) by former Chair of the Board, Odoardo di Santo on how the compensation system is failing injured workers.


July 3, 2014:
"Letter: Will Wynne walk the walk?" (response to Odoardo di Santo's "'Workers' compensation under attack") ⁄ Michael Blythe (Toronto Star)
Former WSIB employee and current worker representative shares di Santo's opinion on the decline of Ontario's workers' compensation system and draws attention to the role played by successive governments from the 1990s. He asks, will Premier Wynne follow up her promise to run a more progressive government by taking action to correct workers' compensation problems?


June 27, 2014:
Commentary - "Ontario's workers' compensation system is under attack: To save money, the fairness at the core of Ontario's workers' compensation system is being undermined." ⁄ Odoardo di Santo (Toronto Star)
Former Board Chair deplores changed direction of the WSIB under Marshall's watch in which "denied claims increased by 50 per cent; benefits to injured workers have been reduced by $631 million; the rehabilitation program has been decimated; long-term wage loss benefits have been reduced by 28 per cent; hundreds of WSIB employees have been laid off; and injured workers' pensions have been reduced by 31.3 per cent...."


June 16, 2014:
"Workplace Safety Insurance Board steps up spying on clients, documents show" ⁄ Patty Winsa (Toronto Star)
Internal documents show the WSIB considers psychological conditions or language barriers to be "red flags" for fraud and may order surveillance - and, as documents obtained through a freedom of information request suggest, often without cause. Article reports the experience of Jennifer Williams, one of many clients whose benefits were reduced after surveillance. Her representative, Maryth Yachnin of IAVGO Community Legal Clinic, which requested the documents, comments "We believe that the WSIB's internal guidelines means that the most vulnerable and precarious workers - those with limited English, psychological problems, lack of stable housing, temporary employment - are being targeted for covert surveillance". Michael Green, a private bar lawyer currently dealing with nine surveillance cases, notes that indication of psychological problem as a reason to conduct surveillance raises questions about discrimination....


June 14, 2014:
"No safe use: the Canadian asbestos epidemic" ⁄ Tavia Grant (Globe and Mail)
Asbestos is the top on-the-job killer in Canada, the source of over 2,200 workplace deaths in Canada between 2007-2012, primarily from mesothelioma and asbestosis. This figure is taken from approved workers' compensation claims. According to estimates of Paul Demers, director at Ontario's Occupational Cancer Research Centre, only about half of mesothelioma cases are filed with the workers' compensation boards; with mesothelioma frequently misdiagnosed as lung cancer, death rates are likely underreported. Asbestosis, too, tends to be under-diagnosed and under-reported... Yet many Canadians are still unknowingly exposed to asbestos every day, while "the federal government has dragged its feet as other nations have acknowledged asbestos's deadly impact and moved to protect their populations from it..."


May 14, 2014:
"Injured workers mount Day of Shame protest to pressure province on WSIB " ⁄ Michael Erskine (Manitoulin Expositor)
Manitoulin injured workers and their supporters push back against proposed changes to Ontario's workers' compensation claims adjudication. Group chair Colin Pick noted that issues with the Board have already led to injured workers being much more likely to wind up homeless and on the street and that the human costs associated with battling WSIB decisions are horrendous. The group calls on politicians to stop the changes before they go into effect - local NDP MPP Mike Mantha is on board.


May 12, 2014:
News release: "Multi-million dollar class action lawsuit launched on behalf of injured workers against the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board"
A private bar lawyer, Richard A. Fink, is trying to organize a class action lawsuit by injured workers who received a permanent impairment (NEL) award that was reduced on the basis of the WSIB's practice of reducing NEL awards because of a pre-existing condition that was not affecting your ability to do your job. This practice began around 2010 and is part of the proposed 2014 benefits policy changes. If this is your situation you may want to attend one of his public meetings (May 22, May 28).


May 7, 2014:
"Proposed WSIB changes will hurt workers, advocates say" (Toronto Star)
Observers claim workers' comp is already using pre-existing condition findings to unfairly cut payouts to injured workers. Injured Workers Consultants' Marion Endicott and Laura Lunansky discuss why workers like William Harris are being denied benefits under cost-cutting changes to policies that fundamentally change the system and could throw thousands of injured workers into poverty. In an open letter to Premier Wynne, the Ontario Network of Injured Workers has also urged the government to intervene.


April 28, 2014:
"National Day of Mourning especially sombre in Waterloo" ⁄ Gordon Paul (TheRecord.com)
In the past year 243 workers in Ontario were killed at work or died from occupational disease. In addressing the crowd of 150 workers, labour leaders and politicians, anti-poverty activist, Rev. Oscar (Oz) Cole-Arnal, took Witmer's WSIB to task: "... when you still support the upper elite and use a 'pre-existing condition' to deny (benefits to) workers, then you are responsible for the problem."


March 6-12, 2014:
"Silence on WSIB changes could be costly" ⁄ Willy Noiles (Viewmag.com)
Unions and injured workers across the province are crying foul over policy changes being proposed by the Board that would reduce benefits for workers injured on the job and download the responsibility for paying for these injuries onto the tax base. ONIWG notes the proposals run contrary to the law and practice of the Board for the past 100 years; CUPE Ontario Fred Hahn makes it clear CUPE also will fight the changes vigorously, with every means available, including legal challenges. "It appears to us that the [Thomas]"consultations" were simply a public relations' exercise and the WSIB is forging ahead in its single–minded goal of reducing costs, at the expense of fair compensation. The unfunded liability is being resolved on the backs of injured workers," said John McKinnon (IWC).


February 5, 2014:
"Chain of shame: a creative revolt by injured workers" [Youtube]
Video, created by Operation Maple, tells the story of injured worker, Wes Mahoney's battles against the Board's deeming policy in his struggle to get fair compensation for his workplace construction accident. In response, his wife, activist Kim Hoover, devised a project to make visible the stories and shameful treatment of those too injured or ill to make their voice heard.


December 13, 2013:
"Disabled in Ontario increasingly forced onto welfare" ⁄ Laurie Monsebraaten (Toronto Star)
The changing nature of work means more Ontarians who become sick, injured or disabled are forced to rely on the Ontario Disability Support Program. New study by John Stapleton for the Metcalf Foundation indicates that the Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPP-Disability) and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) benefits each cover only about 20% of claimants, employer disability benefits an estimated 15%, with EI, veterans' benefits and the RDSP supporting very few Ontarians...


October 19, 2013:
"Minimum wage discussion in Thunder Bay" (NetNewsLedger)
Greg Snider and Steve Mantis of the Thunder Bay & District Injured Workers Support Group addressed the Minimum Wage Advisory Panel. While supporting an increase in the minimum wage pegged to inflation on an annual basis, they detailed the unintended and disastrous impact for permanently injured workers unless the WSIB / government eliminates deeming and uses instead actual wage loss in calculating benefits. The presentation spoke of current levels of poverty among injured workers, the erosion of their benefits and the need to implement recommendations from the recent Funding Review on the restoration of indexation - a return to fair and just compensation based on the Meredith principles.


October 6, 2013:
"Injured workers bear 'burden' " ⁄ Sandi Krasowski (Chronicle Journal)
Update on the latest Meredith hearing held at the Lakehead Labour Centre where injured workers and advocates voiced their thoughts on the state of workers' compensation in Ontario.


September 30, 2013:
Workers Compensation Union Coalition news release: The time to expand Workers' Compensation coverage for ALL Canadians is NOW
The group is calling upon each province to mirror the North West Territories by implementing workplace injury coverage for all of Canada's workers.


August 12, 2013:
Letter: Cost versus need for Canada's military ⁄ Margery Wardle (Ottawa Citizen). ONIWG Eastern Representative challenges a reader's response to a Citizen editorial on providing unconditional needed medical care for injured personnel. In answer to his comments that this might encourage widespread abuse and irresponsibility, she draws attention to attitudes that promote the stigma facing all injured workers trying to obtain their rightful assistance for recovery from workplace injury


April 23, 2013
"Migrant farm workers inhabit precarious working world ⁄ David Goutor (Toronto Star)
According to Justicia for Migrant Workers, an advocacy group, more than 50 migrant workers have been killed in workplace accidents in Ontario since 1996. Farmworkers brought in under the seasonal agricultural workers program (SAWP) are in permanently precarious position. Under Ontario's Coroners' Act an inquest is not mandatory for fatalities in the agricultural sector, as it is for mining or construction. While inquests have been held into the deaths of agricultural workers who are Canadian citizens, none has yet been conducted for temporary migrant farmworkers...


April 11, 2013
"Injured Ontario workers still live in poverty, protesters say" ⁄ Jodi Lundmark (tbnewswatch.com)
The Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers' Support Group joined Poverty Free Thunder Bay outside MPP Michael Gravelle's office to protest cuts made to benefits for injured and disabled workers over the last several years.

See also:
"Groups team up for rally" (Chronicle-Journal Apr. 12, 2013)


April 10, 2013
"Will Ontario act on Law Commission's advice to address precarious work crisis?" ⁄ Lori Theresa Waller (Rabble.ca)
The LCO's report, released Apr. 3, "confirms what workers' advocates have been saying for years: that an increasing proportion of workers in Ontario (and Canada, for that matter) find themselves stuck in insecure, temporary or part-time jobs that put them barely above the poverty line. And that regulatory loopholes and shoddy enforcement of employment laws are leaving these workers vulnerable to burnout and abuse..." Article hopes the Ontario government will act quickly on most of the recommendations, not cherry pick from the easiest to address.


April 4, 2013
"Budget panel hears from 20 parties" ⁄ Kris Ketonen (Chronicle Journal) - including Thunder Bay's injured workers [presentation]. Said Steve Mantis, treasurer of the Thunder Bay & District Injured Workers Support Group, "The people that are coming to us, the injured workers who are new to the system, seem to be in greater and greater crisis. "We're pushed to provide more and more services to people as volunteers, at the same time feeling like 'oh my gosh, this is not going to get better.'" Although not the first time he has appeared before the Committee for its pre-budget consultations, Mantis expressed reason to hope this year the politicians might listen...


February 15, 2013
" Repeal workplace insurance law, group tells new Ontario Labour Minister Yasir Naqvi" ⁄ Mohammed Adam (Ottawa Citizen)
A group of independent contractors, members of the Movement Against Bill 119, call on the government to repeal a new law which they say imposes harsh workplace insurance premiums.


February 12, 2013
CBC radio : Points North - " New Chair of WSIB making changes" interview with Elizabeth Witmer (listen here)
Chair describes the Board's "new and improved" service delivery model that's focused on getting workers back to work as soon as possible...


January 30, 2013
"WSIB ignores doctors’ advice, wants injured trucker back on job" / Hugh Adami (Ottawa Citizen)
An injured worker, suffering chronic pain from a work-related shoulder injury, faces issues of unsafe return to work and fears of loss of benefits.


January 18, 2013
"Many injured workers and families face reality daily" / Rolly Marentette (Windsor Star)

Injured worker, in his comments on the Board's response to the Sacheli article of Jan. 9, notes that many of those who return to work do so without having had time to heal properly, and many are treated by the WSIB with distrust, suspicion and condescension.....


January 9, 2013
"Workers' compensation: justice not poverty for injured workers" [declaration] / Thunder Bay & District Injured Workers' Support Group.

On the eve of a rally outside MPP GRavelle's office, the TB&DIWSG issues a statement on how Ontario's system is being designed to fail injured workers and calls on the government to change direction, together with a media release.


January 9, 2013
Injured worker fights 16-year battle with WSIB / Sarah Sacheli (Windsor Star)

Former Department store manager shot by an armed robber at work is taking to YouTube and the courts after years of fighting the WSIB for benefits. "Their first answer is always "No" " Owens, now 53, said in an interview. "From the onset, WSIB took an unreasonable, adversarial position", speaking of the denial of compensation claims for teeth damaged in the attack, a chronic gastric disorder brought on by painkillers taken after the Board refused to pay for physiotherapy, and psychological counselling for diagnosed post-traumatic stress ...


2012

December 3, 2012:
"Ontario experience rating needs more study to prevent abuse: Arthurs" / Mari-Len de Guzman (Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine, Dec 2012
At the International International Symposium on the Challenges of Workplace Injury Prevention through Financial Incentives held recently in Toronto, keynote speaker Harry Arthurs (author of the recent report "Funding Fairness") called for more research on claims suppression and other experience rating abuses, while Marion Endicott (IWC Community legal worker) addressed how experience rating undermines Ontario's workers' compensation system, increases workplace danger and inequity among employers.


November 30, 2012:
"Media release : Health and safety rebate and surcharge incentive system harms injured workers international experts agree" / Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups [pdf]
...At to-day’s conference, at the University of Toronto, ONWIG members heard international experts affirm that abuse of injured workers is common within the experience rating systems and that it has little or no effect on improving workplace health and safety. Rather it has spawned an industry of litigation and gaming the system....


Novermber 1, 2012:
"Workers step in to help injured colleagues- Tighter rules make benefits tougher to get" / Laurie Watt (Simcoe.com)
"...Jim Chubb, a former Barrie and District Labour Council chairperson, said Hearns' story about injuries and isolation isn’t unique. After he saw his wife – a longtime school custodian – opt to take early retirement rather than report to work in pain or fight for WSIB benefits, he realized the need for an injured workers’ group..." Article discusses funding issues, worker poverty, rehabilitation and prevention.


October 23, 2012:
Face to Face: Injured workers comment on proposed changes to WSIB appeals system / injuredworkersonline [YouTube]

In June 2012, the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board proposed changes to the appeals system for workers' compensation. The proposals include additional forms, an agreement to risk losing benefits previously awarded and a preference for written appeals over in-person hearings for appeals. Injured workers discussed this at a meeting of the Bright Lights injured workers in Toronto in September 2012. Some wanted to put their comments and concerns on the record in this video. A copy is being sent to the WSIB.


October 8, 2012:
"Cheri DiNovo tables bill to help police and others with PTSD" / Curtis Rush (Toronto Star)
NDP MPP introduces a bill to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to fast-track benefit claims for first-line responders with post-traumatic stress arisng from work. DiNovo discounts critics' claims that this would cause a "financial tsunami", noting if they aren't treated quickly then the public pays in social assistance costs.... (note: October 15 prorogation terminates bill)


July 19, 2012:
ONIWG Media Release: Law Commission Reports Workers' Compensation Age Limits Undermine the Worth and Dignity of Older Adults
The recently released report of the Law Commission of Ontario ("Final Report on the Law as it Affects Older Adults" - read here ) identifies concerns about age discrimination in workers' compensation benefits under Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.
The LCO report describes two provisions terminating benefits for older workers. While the WSIA places a limited duty on employers to re-employ injured workers, this duty ends at the point when a worker reaches age 65. The legislation also places age 65 limits on loss of earnings benefits....


July 2, 2012:

"Ontario's injured migrant workers lose out on WSIB benefits, critics charge" / Nicholas Keung (Toronto Star) Article discusses how the practice of deeming, used to justify the reduction and elimination of compensation to injured workers by identifying alternative jobs, is outright unfair to apply to injured migrant workers because neither those jobs nor retraining opportunities are available in their home countries...As IAVGO's Airissa Gemma explains "Ninety-nine per cent of migrant workers get repatriated (to their own countries) after their injuries. They can't be re-employed here and are excluded from working for the rest of their lives."


June 12, 2012:

Steve Mantis is interviewed live by Laura di Battista (during the RAACWI Community Forum) about injured workers' poverty for today's CBC Radio One program "Here and Now"


June 8-15, 2012:
Injured Workers at Queen’s Park lay claim to their rights The groups ask provincial government and WSIB for inflation-adjusted pensions / Mattia Bello (Tandem)
.."The weather forecast reflects our frame of mind, which is very black," affirmed Orlando Buonastella of Injured Workers Consultants. The Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups vociferously asked for a reversal to the policy of cuts by Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)....


June 6, 2102:
" Buonastella : Adeguare le pensioni al tasso d'inflazione" / Mattia Bello (Corriere Canadese Online)
- Despite the rain, injured workers once again gather outside Queen's Park to protest cuts and policies of the WCB.


June 4, 2012:
Cohn : How the Liberals buried a $14 billion liability late in the day / Martin Regg Cohn (Toronto Star). The Arthurs' report, which among its recommendations included restoring indexation to both fully and partially disabled injured workers, is released - and promptly buried by the government. New WCB Chair, Elizabeth Witmer "is being brought back to clean up a mess of her own making — or at least one she made worse" when, as Labour Minister under the Harris government "she reduced benefits for injured workers, while recklessly reducing employer premiums by roughly double that amount"...


June 2, 2012:
"Rally for injured workers" / (LondonCommunityNews.com)
At a rally outside the WCB offices, the London and District Injured Workers Group, joined by the London and District and St. Thomas and District labour councils, Occupy London and the Institute for Injured Workers Group, send the message that Ontario's injured workers are suffering while being ignored by the organization meant to protect and support them.


June 1, 2012:
"Injured Workers' Day highlights need for improved compensation system" / B.C. Federation of Labour
The Federation recognizes June 1, 2012 as Injured Workers' Day in BC. The measures it urges the government to take to restore the workers' compensation are those Ontario's injured workers are also calling for...


May 14, 2012:
"Number of workplace fatalities rises in Ontario" / Tony Van Alphen (Toronto Star)
"More workers are dying on the job in Ontario despite stronger government efforts to reduce fatalities and injuries. Seventy-three workers lost their lives in accidents under provincial jurisdiction in 2011...."


May 12, 2012:
"WSIB will give small hike in benefits to partially disabled" / Rob Ferguson (Toronto Star)
"...The moves were announced Friday following a report to Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey on years of red ink in the workers’ compensation system, soon to be chaired by former Progressive Conservative MPP Elizabeth Witmer. But it remains unclear whether workers or employers — or both — will bear the cost of eliminating the board’s $14.2 billion unfunded liability..."


April 30, 2012:
ONIWG media release: "McGuinty's choice of WSIB chair called a betrayal of injured workers" [pdf]
Response to the appointment of Elizabeth Witmer, Minister of Labour during the Harris government which reduced employers' WSIB rates by about 30% between 1996 and 2001....and whose Bill 99 was a major step backwards for injured workers.


Apr. 2012:
What does it mean to suffer work-related injury or illness? Recent stories in the press give a glimpse of the devastating impact on real lives.


Mar. 15, 2012:
ONIWG press conference at Queen's Park: "WSIB President President earns bonus cutting injured workers' benefits" [media advisory]
The Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups has learned through an access to information request that WSIB President David Marshall's appointment by the Ontario government includes a bonus of up to $400,000, payable at the end of five years, for achieving certain financial goals and objectives, in addition to his annual salary of $400,000 per year.
"He's getting paid to cut our benefits. We have always been concerned that WSIB funding would be tackled by cuts to injured workers. The WSIB would be fully funded if the Harris government had not drastically reduced employers' rates, but every time someone raises a concern about funding we find cuts to the benefits of injured workers." said ONIWG president Peter Page... For more information see also ONIWG "Open letter to the Premier" [pdf]


Feb. 28, 2012:
"Injured Windsor area workers fear WSIB changes" / Beatrice Fantoni (Windsor Star)
Rolly Marentette, chair of the Injured Workers' Coalition in Windsor, said workers from all over Windsor have been calling him with questions. The group hosted a meeting with the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups on Monday where more than 150 workers and advocates attended to discuss the KPMG audit report and policy changes with some already phased in.


Feb. 14, 2012:
"Falling behind" / Steve Mantis (Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal)
Disabled and injured workers have been falling behind for the last 17 years — a reduction of 25 per cent in their benefits — but the current Ontario government has decided that’s not enough...


Feb. 10, 2012:
Migrant worker tragedy - Hampstead, Ont. accident
Following the crash on Monday Feb.6 that took the lives of 10 agricultural workers and 1 truck driver, and left 3 injured, legal advocates at the Industrial Accident Victims Group of Ontario (IAVGO) question how much support survivors will receive from Ontario's Workers' Compensation Board (WSIB).

"Migrant Workers' Families Entitled to Workers' Compensation Following Deaths, but the 3 Survivors Are Likely to Be Deported and Cut Off Workers' Compensation"
TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 9, 2012) - The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has confirmed to the Ontario Federation of Labour that the families of the migrant workers who died on Monday in the horrific crash in Hampstead, Ontario will get benefits from the WSIB. The WSIB should be commended for its quick response to this tragedy. But, although covered by the WSIB, the three workers who survived the horrific accident will likely get cut off workers' compensation in the near future and be forced to leave the country because they are migrant workers. Migrant workers who get injured in the course of their employment are supposedly entitled to the same rights and benefits as their Ontario peers. According to IAVGO Community Legal Clinic, the truth on the ground is very different. Migrant workers' swift repatriation (deportation) and exclusion from compensation may have devastating consequences for the three workers who survived the crash. "Canada and the agricultural industry are quick to dispose of migrant workers who get injured in the course of their employment. Workers are soon sent back to the global south, and in our experience, are unable to find work with their injury and largely unable to pay for private medical care. It's an inhumane and unjust way for Canada to treat people who get injured putting food on our tables," says Jessica Ponting, Community Legal Worker at the legal clinic. "The WSIB denies wage loss compensation by insisting that injured migrant workers could be working in a suitable job in Ontario, either with their employer or at another job. Telling migrant workers to find work in Ontario is absurd given that they are legally restricted from working in Canada past the end of their visa and given that migrant workers have no labour mobility while they are here due to their employer-specific work permits," explains Maryth Yachnin, Staff Lawyer at IAVGO. For example, one of our clients is a Jamaican migrant worker who lost all function to his left hand while working in a greenhouse in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Despite the migration program requiring his return to Jamaica, the WSIB told him that he could restore his earnings if he worked in Ontario as a gas bar attendant. The WSIB then cut off compensation leaving him unable to provide for his family. "The WSIB's unfair policies mean that injured migrant workers become extremely vulnerable to poverty and ill-health because of their labour in Canada. The WSIB needs to change their policies so workers like the three survivors of the crash can get fair compensation for their injuries. These workers cannot be treated as though they are disposable," says Yachnin. IAVGO is a community legal aid clinic funded by Legal Aid Ontario since 1975. We serve low-income injured workers throughout Ontario and prioritize the cases of migrant workers. Contact Information: Industrial Accident Victims Group of Ontario
Maryth Yachnin 416-924-6477 ext. 25 (416) 924-2472 (FAX)
Jessica Ponting 416-924-6477 ext. 27 or 647-401-9611 (416) 924-2472 (FAX)

Additional coverage of the WSIB and migrant workers:


Feb. 9, 2012:
Media release: "Cuts at Ontario Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) mean workers suffer" / CUPE Local 1750
This week, Ontario WSIB issued redundancy notices to more than 80 employees. Harry Goslin, President of CUPE 1750 said, "Cutting skilled employees and outsourcing non-profit work to for-profit organizations will not help the organization fulfill its mandate. No one wins when an organization reduces services and increases wait times."...


Jan. 24, 2012:
"Out of control" WSIB failing injured workers, Commission told (StandUp.org)
Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group tell the Commission on Quality Public Services and Tax Fairness on Monday that when the government of Mike Harris overhauled the Workers' Compensation Board almost 15 years ago through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (Bill 99), it created a complex and adversarial system that fails to meet the needs of injured working people and their families...


Jan. 18, 2012:
Injured Coast Guard employee protests cut income / Sarah Frank (Cottage Country Now)
After WSIB cut off his benefits a couple weeks before Christmas, alleging he is fit to return to his old job, Parry Sound man who says he's in too much pain to return to his former duties is left with no source on income...


2011


Dec. 22, 2011:
The grinch award? Thunder Bay injured workers picket outside the WSIB building, slamming the Board for its acceptance of recommendations in the KPMG audit report on adjudication and claims administration [video- TBnewswatch.com]


Dec. 19, 2011:
"Veterans struggle to enter public workforce" / CBC news
A priority list aimed at helping injured soldiers and employees who became disabled get jobs in the public service isn't fulfilling its mandate - being on the list stigmatizes people, making it seem they are undesirable potential employees, says Sean Bruyea...


Dec. 6-12, 2011:
Press coverage of the annual Christmas rally & protests against the KPMG audit


October 28, 2011:
"Another blow to injured worker" / Ken Ladouceur (Windsor Star)
Letter to the editor by father of a worker who suffered a severe brain injury on the job leaving him with a permanent disability. The WSIB's cuts to injured workers' benefits - introduced before the funding review has even completed its work - have taken back his son's independent living allowance. "Michael gained a disability and lost the hope for a bright future. Must he also lose his dignity?"


September 30, 2011:
Tentative deal thwarts Oakville transit strike / CP24.com
After lambasting the Transit Authority for its mistreatment of injured workers, CAW Local 1256 and the city negotiate a tenative deal. [Ratified Sunday, CAW Local president says the agreement addresses injured workers concerns].


September 29, 2011:
Protest outside London WSIB offices - Wendy Knelson speaks to injured workers' concerns


August 17, 2011:
"Injured workers protest system" / Steve Arnold (Hamilton Spectator).
Injured workers, protesting a system that pushes them into poverty, staged a sit-in at riding offices of 6 politicans, including Premier McGuinty and opposition leader Tim Hudak. ONIWG's Peter Page and the OFL's Sid Ryan were among those occupying the constituency offices and discussing adverse impacts on injured workers of both current government policies (especially deeming) and the Conservative Party's proposed WCB reforms...


August 17, 2011:
"Bartolucci backs widows in pension fight" / Tony Muma (Sudbury Star). Sudbury MPP supports the widows and families of miners who died from occupational diseases and whose survivors' benefits are being challenged by Vale Ltd. (formerly Inco)...More on the issue:


July 27, 2011:
Hunger striker wins right to a new hearing - After 8 days on a hunger strike outside the WCB's Toronto offices, following the OFL's intervention injured worker Jimmy Velgakis is granted a full review by the Board of his 1991 compensation claim for a work-related back injury. As his legal representative, IWC's Marion Endicott, had requested, this will be a new hearing where all of the facts can be explored, including the evidence of a witness that was previously excluded by the Tribunal. During his hunger strike, Mr Velgakis received support also from ONIWG and NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo.


July 11, 2011:
"Workplace deaths climb in Ontario" / Tony Van Alphen (Toronto Star). Recently released statistics from the Ministry of Labour show that while lost time injury claims have decreased, the number of workplace deaths jumped 16 per cent last year....


June 15, 2011:
ONIWG media release - Cuts on the back of injured workers [download pdf here]

Injured workers identify critical issues - The Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG) has been consulting with their members from across the province this week. While WSIB and elected Government officials have promised that solving the alleged unfunded liability issue and any resulting cuts would not be on the backs of injured workers, we are finding that WSIB policies & practices are in fact doing just that by cutting various injured worker benefits and entitlements....


June 1, 2011: Injured Workers' Day - in the news!
Extensive media coverage of this year's rallies highlighted concerns of injured workers, labour and the community at large with the current workers' compensation system:


June 1, 2011:
OFL Media Conference to Highlight Injured Workers Ignored by Government : 10 a.m. in Queen's Park Media Studio
Injured worker, Maryam Nazemi will be on hand to discuss her experiences managing her injury on her own. Workers’ compensation legal expert, Dave Wilken will join OFL President Sid Ryan in discussing the need for mandatory WSIB coverage for all workers and the social and economic benefit to the province.


May 31 / June 1, 2011:
ONIWG media advisory - Overnight vigil & Injured Workers' Day rally [Download here]

May 31st - Overnight Vigil by Injured Workers at Queen's Park
The Women of Inspiration, a local injured worker group, will begin an overnight vigil at Queen’s Park beside the front steps of the Legislature until the June 1st rally begins. Reform of the workers’ compensation system is very important to people who are suffering. Every year for the past five years they have been there to remind MPPs that many injured workers cannot sleep because they have to worry about pain and poverty.

June 1st Rally – Its Raining Cutbacks at Queen’s Park
This is the 28th anniversary of Injured Workers' Day which highlights the principle that injury should not mean poverty and celebrates working together as a community. Injured workers will speak out about cutbacks in workers compensation with skits, musicians, poets, puppets. ... For more information call: Peter Page, President, Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups (905) 745 - 1003 Orlando Buonastella - IWC (416) 461-2411


April 28, 2011: Day of Mourning - Media coverage of ceremonies held around the province to honour workers killed or injured:


April-May, 2011
Coverage of the Board's Funding Review and public consultations


March 1, 2011
"Investigation team probes Ontario herbicide exposure" (Canadian OH&S News)
Cross-government team to investigate reports of exposure by forestry workers in northern Ontario to Agent Orange and other defoliants during the 1950s to 1970s period.


February 8, 2011
"Simplify WSIB " / Steve Mantis (Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal)
Letter to the editor from the Thunder Bay & District Injured Workers Support Group encourages all to have their say on potential impacts in the Funding Review's upcoming public consultations.


January 19, 2011
" Reflections on Russell funeral" (Toronto Star)
In a Letter to the Editor, Linda Vannucci, Lawyer/Director, Toronto Workers' Health and Safety Legal Clinic, notes that, while not minimizing the courageous role law enforcers play, "all workplace deaths are worthy of our respect and media's front page coverage. "


January 5, 2011
"Mentally ill endure chronic discrimination" / Carol Goar (Toronto Star)
Ontario Human Rights Commissioner wants to develop policies that address the real-life experiences of people with mental health disabilities, including how they are accommodated in the workplace.


2010


December 16, 2010
"Report calls for sweeping changes after scaffolding deaths" / Tanya Talaga (Toronto Star)
Expert Advisory Panel on Occupational Health and Safety makes 46 recommendations, including mandatory safety training for construction workers a new prevention office reporting directly to the labour minister.


December 11, 2010
"Injured workers deserve more, protesters say." / Karen McKinley (Thunder Bay Chronicle Journal).
In the face of recent unwelcome changes to the workers' compensation system, members of the Thunder Bay & District Injured Workers' Support Group ask how their MPP, Michael Gravelle, and his government plan to help them...


December 8, 2010:
ONIWG media advisory: "Injured workers' bake sale against cuts to compensation". On Friday December 10th at 11:00 a.m., injured workers will hold their 19th annual Christmas demonstration, held at this time of year to highlight the poverty and insecurity of one of Ontario’s most vulnerable groups. Despite promises that the board's "unfunded liability" will not be solved on the backs of injured workers, the government will keep injured workers benefits below the cost of living... [Text] and "Fact sheet on cost-of-living" [pdf]


October 14, 2010
" 3 charged in scaffold deaths" / Peter Edwards and Curtis Rush (Toronto Star)
The President of Metron Construction Corp. and two other officals are charged, under Bill C-45, with criminal negligence causing death in the Toronto workplace fatalities last Christmas Eve of four construction workers. (OFL response to the charges)


October 4, 2010:
ONIWG media release: "New WSIB funding review - are Ontario's injured workers on the chopping block again?" Members of Ontario’s injured worker community are worried that once again they will face benefit reductions as a result of a false financial crisis. The WSIB has never been in debt. It has a reserve fund of investments now valued at more than $14 Billion.... [Text]


September 13, 2010:
"Agricultural deaths preventable, says Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW)" [statement] Since 1999 there have been 33 reported deaths of migrant workers employed under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program in Ontario and 1,129 medical repatriations of SAWP migrants, J4MW notes that the numbers of migrant workplace injuries and deaths are underreported because of premature repatriations and workers dying in their home countries as a result of injuries sustained while working in Canada. The group urges the Ministry of Labour to increase workplace inspection and improve labour protection for migrant workers.


August 16, 2010:
" Survivor of scaffolding collapse suing companies, province" / Natalie Stechyson (Globe and Mail). For Dilshod Marupov, sole survivor of a workplace accident in which he and four other workers fell 13 storeys while repairing an Etobicoke apartment balcony, the pain in his head, back and legs "makes life a daily battle...Pain is my life"


August 14, 2010:
"Charges laid in scaffolding accident that killed 4 workers" / Joseph Hall (Toronto Star). Ministry of Labour lays multiple charges against Metron Construction Corporation and Swing 'N' Scaff for a workplace accident that saw five workers plunge 13 storeys from an Etobicoke building balcony.


June 25, 2010:
" Pilot program to determine if injured-worker clinic is needed " / Jodi Lundmark (tbnewswatch.com). Steve Mantis, from Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group, comments on the WSIB's one-year pilot program to provide local services with the opening of a new Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers (OHCOW).


June 1st, 2010:
Injured Workers' Day : Media kit - On Tuesday injured workers will gather at 11:00 a.m. with their families, unions and advocates, outside the Ontario Legislative Assembly buildings, as they have done every year since 1983 [read the history]. Last year a survey of injured workers revealed nearly 4 times the rate of poverty in Ontario. But injured workers' requests for improvements were rebuffed by new concerns alleging poverty of the WSIB. Cuts to pain killing medication, a review of the WSIB vocational rehabilitation program, statements by the new WSIB President and Deputy Minister of Labour all express sympathy for reducing compensation for the injured. Where does that come from?

For more information call Peter Page - Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups (905) 818-3064 or Orlando Buonastella - IWC (416) 461-2411


March 17, 2010:
Hoggs' Hollow Tragedy - a key event in the improvement of Ontario's working conditions. Today marks the 50th anniversary of the deaths of five immigrant Italian workers digging a water main tunnel at York Mills & Yonge Sts, Toronto. Trapped underground and asphyxiated when their equipment caught fire, their deaths highlighted the exploitation of immigrant workers in the 1960's and the lack of workplace safety standards in construction.


March 8, 2010:
"Workplace death sparks changes " / Julius Melnitzer (Law Times - online). Article discusses Ontario's use of Bill C-45 to bring charges of criminal negligence causing death against a corporation following a fatal workplace accident in Sault Ste Maries last Spring. Passed in 2004, there have been only 2 criminal prosecutions since under the new legislation, however the controversy over the deaths of four construction workers in Toronto on Christmas Eve has focused public attention on workplace safety...


March 4, 2010:
Fortunato Rao interviews Peter Fonseca. The retired steelworker organizer, retired WCAT worker member and full-time labour news activist will have what is sure to be an interesting radio interview with the Labour Minister on Thursday March 4th at 8 p.m. Tune in to AM radio 1610 in Toronto or, if outside Toronto, catch it on Rogers digital channel 951 or online at http://www.sanlorenzo.ca.


2009


December 24, 2009:
The tragic deaths of four construction workers in Toronto, and severe injuries of a fifth, drew attention to issues of workplace safety and inspection in the building trades.

December 8-14, 2009:
L'Express (Toronto's French weekly) covers the 18th Annual Toronto Christmas demonstration by injured workers and the issues being raised. Read more...


November 16, 2009:
"Work-related injuries are habitually underreported, G.A.O. says" / Steven Greenhouse (New York Times). The report for the U.S. Congress detailing widespread underreporting says failure to report by employers is driven by fear of increasing workers' compensation costs or losing contracts because of safety issues. Workers fail to report occupational injuries and illnesses for fear of being fired or disciplined, or causing co-workers to lose rewards offered by safety incentive programs. [Full report]


November 8, 2009
"Asbestos killing more Canadian than ever; like old landmines" / Canadian Press (CTV Canada). Article discusses the continual increase in the number of reported deaths from mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer that may take up to 40 years to emerge.


October 21-23, 2009:
The hostage-taking by an injured worker of staff in Alberta's Workers' Compensation Board offices has drawn much reaction. While not condoning such acts of violence as a solution, the commentary has also addressed the issue of workers' despair and needed reforms to provincial workers' compensation systems:


October 19, 2009:
A political fix for WSIB / Randy Hillier [blog]
Progressive Conservative MPP for Lanark, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington addresses the "bureaucratic nightmare" of a regulatory and financial burden on employers and calls for workers to be covered by private insurance...


October 13-16, 2009:
Focus on eradicating poverty (Metronews.ca series) - as the UN International Day on the Eradication of Poverty (Oct. 19) approaches, the daily commuter paper Metronews is taking a week-long look at poverty in the GTA.


September 25, 2009:
Ombudsman again takes to task [Comments] the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities for inadequate monitoring to ensure colleges, publicly-funded and private, deliver the programs they promise for recognized vocational training that will allow meaningful employment. Reports:
"Too cool for school, too " (Sep. 2009) & "Too cool for school " (July 2009)


September 17-22, 2009:
Private career colleges investigation / Brett Popplewell and Diana Zlomislic (Toronto Star). Reporters uncover the facts on private colleges for skills training that take students' money and deliver substandard - or no - education, and the failure in government oversight.


September 3, 2009:
An armageddon approach by the CFIB? WSIB Chair responds to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business news release and letter to the Minister of Labour on the state of Board finances, calling them a complete distortion of the facts and sabre rattling to get media attention and scare their membership unnecessarily...[read full response in "For the record: Clarifications about CFIB's claims"]


August 23, 2009:
"WSIB has plenty of reserves" [Letter to the editor] / John McKinnon, Injured Workers Consultants (Toronto Star). Response disputes reports (see the article below) the Board is broke, noting employers have enjoyed a premium holiday for more than a decade - injured workers have not been so fortunate....


August 20, 2009:
"Cost of insuring Ontario workplaces to go up" / James Daw (Toronto Star). Impact of poor safety records in some industries and the Board's investment losses on employers' premiums ; WCB Chair Mahoney's response on funding shortfalls and injured workers' benefits.


June 4, 2009:
"Injured workers continue fight for justice and dignity" / John Bonnar (Rabble.ca). Blog coverage of the events and speakers at the Injured Workers' Day rally at Queen's Park.


June 1, 2009:
Injured Workers' Day : 26th Anniversary
Every year on June 1st injured workers and labour activists gather at Queen's Park and other locations around the province to mark Injured Workers' Day on the anniversary of the day in 1983 when thousands came together to speak against the government's proposal to eliminate the permanent disability pension. This year, on the release of a study on the poverty of Ontario's injured workers, we call on the government to eliminate deeming, adjust workers' compensation to keep up with inflation; extend coverage to protect all workers; end the experience rating program that rewards employers who fail to report workplace injuries; restore the independence of the Appeals Tribunal.

Media kit:


April 24, 2009:
"Employers fire mothers-to-be: recession used as excuse for surge in pink slips" / Susan Pigg (Toronto Star). Article reports that human rights advocates are seeing an alarming rise in cases across the province of pregnant women being fired by employers claiming hard times as the cause. It goes on to note an increase also in complaints by fired injured workers facing the same discrimination.


April 2, 2009:
" A world of hurt: in workplace injury system, ill will on all sides" / Steven Greenhouse (New York Times). In this special series, author discusses mistrust between worker and employer; article explores the impact of reward programs and safety incentive programs, often used to cut down on the reporting of injuries and discourage workers from filing compensation claims.


March 4, 2009:
"Audit slams Ontario workplace safety rebates" / David Bruser (TheStar.com) Article notes Morneau Sobeco review for the WSIB confirms findings of the Toronto Star's investigative series, Working Wounded.


February 22, 2009:
The Silicosis Files : Everyone thought silicosis was a disease of the past - so why are miners being diagnosed with the disease today? Why is the Workers Safety Insurance Board casting doubt on their diagnoses? And why are politicians staying out of the fight? A CBC investigative report examines the struggles of lung miners to have their claims recognized and receive due compensation. [Note: Report no longer available on website]


January 24, 2009:
"A jobs program that fails" / David Bruser (TheStar.com). Toronto Star investigates the Board's Labour Market Re-entry program and asks why does it cost more to retrain an injured worker to stock shelves than it would to send him to university for four years?


2008


September 23, 2008:
"Firms with worker deaths to lose rebates: Star investigation prompts WSIB change" / David Bruser (TheStar.com). New policy denies cash rebates to companies in the year of a fatal accident.
Response:

Dear Editors:
Re: No cash for killer firms (Sept. 23) The Star's investigation of the WSIB's Experience Rating rebate program for employers is a valuable public service. The revelation that companies received millions of dollars in WSIB rebates for so called 'good safety records' at the same time as workers were killed in their employment was a loud call for action. To its credit, the WSIB has closed that particular loophole and employers will no longer get a safety rebate in the year of a fatal injury.
I would encourage The Star to continue its examination of Experience Rating. The next year after a death in the workplace, the company will come back to the trough for more rebates. It will be business as usual until the Experience Rating program is scrapped. And what about the 3,000 apparently serious injuries including amputations, broken bones and third degree burns that The Star found to be reported to the WSIB as resulting in zero days lost? (Hiding Injuries Rewards Companies, 29 May 2008)
As long as the WSIB rewards companies for not reporting lost time injuries, that is what they are going to do. When injuries are swept under the carpet and not properly counted, there is no investigation, no focus on prevention. The goal of a culture of safety is undermined. If you want to provide an incentive for companies to make their workplace safer, give the rebates to the companies that have made actual safety improvements in the workplace and don’t penalize the employers who accurately report workplace injuries. If you take action to make safer working conditions, you will ensure the safety of workers.

John McKinnon
Executive Director, Injured Workers' Consultants Community Legal Clinic


July 21, 2008:
" Labour Market Reentry - the ultimate captive student" / Jeff Rybak (Macleans OnCampus) discusses issues around retraining under the Board's LMR program and the deemed jobs that follow it. Check out the comments too.


June 29, 2008:
"Hiding injuries rewards companies: Star investigation reveals job safety numbers are underreported, cutting employer costs." / David Bruser (Toronto Star). Article finds the government's highly touted campaign to improve workplace safety is rewarding companies for hiding injuries and rushing the wounded back to work.


June 5-8, 2008:
Injured Workers' Day - "Injured workers' 25-year long battle: protesters demonstrated in front of Queen's park for their rights" / Letizia Tesi . (Tandem Online-Corriere Canadese) covers the annual June 1st rally.


May 23, 2008:
Letter to the editor: "WSIB policy penalizes employers who hire previously disabled" / Gary Robertson (Daily Commercial News. How experience rating can adversely affect construction employers who employ a worker with a pre-existing disability.


May 10, 2008:
"Stress of fight to prove injury claim blamed for man's death" / Kate Hammer (Globe and Mail). Family raises issue of injured worker's treatment at the Board. According to advocacy groups, injured workers often suffer from depression and anxiety associated with the difficulties of filing a compensation claim.


May 8, 2008:
"NDP wants WSIB program scrapped" / David Bruser (Toronto Star). Incentive plan gives rebate to some companies that have been prosecuted for safety violations. The New Democratic Party has put forward a motion calling for an audit of the experience rating program.


April 29, 2008:
"Injured workers still face real struggles"/ Tom Cooper (Hamilton Spectator) As injured workers and their families gather on the national day of mourning many obstacles still confront them. While many struggle financially, some employers receive generous rebates under the experience rating program which, as Marion Endicott wrote 13 years ago, undermines "the basic principles on which the compensation system is built".


April 14, 2008:
"End worker harassment." [letter to the editor] (Toronto Star). In an effort to earn rewards and avoid penalties, employers lose no time in forcing workers back to work too soon, offering them meaningless jobs or attempting to discredit their injury claims...

For more information on experience rating, and why it matters [click here]


April 10, 2008:
"WSIB rebate embarrassing, premier says" (Toronto Star). Premier responds to yesterday's press conference at Queen's Park by injured worker groups and labour groups demanding faster action on the experience rating system.


April 9, 2008:
Injured workers groups and OFL call for end to employer incentive program (Toronto Star). Press conference scheduled as the Board's response is questioned. [Press release]


April 5, 2008:
Experience rating exposed...."When companies get rewarded for mistakes"
Another article in Toronto Star's series "Working wounded" looks at flaws in the workers' compensation system.

Responses:


April 2, 2008:
WCB Chair Steve Mahoney speaks about employer rebates, the Board's controversial advertising, injuries rates, benefit indexation, costs ... on TVO's "The Agenda" [Video]


March 11, 2008:
"Risky workplaces face cash penalties" (Toronto Star). The Board announces a review of the experience rating program and immediate moratorium on rebates for companies responsible for a workplace fatality.


February 16, 2008:
Toronto Star publishes first in a series of reports [Working Wounded] from its investigation into workplace illness and injury
In "Board shields unsafe job sites" the article looks at how occupational health and safety can be compromised under the current experience rating system that rewards companies for reporting low lost-time claims.


2007


December 11, 2007:
16th Annual Injured Worker Christmas Demo
Injured workers, unions and advocates bring their issues to the new Minister of Labour, Brad Duguid, and WCB/WSIB Chair, Steve Mahoney. Speakers emphasize the 4 key demands:

[Flyer ? Photos | Audio (Radio4all.net)]
Click on links under "Download" (Windows Media Player) or "Play" (Realplayer)
Photos and audio courtesy of John Bonnar / Toronto Social Justice Magazine


October 2, 2007:
Injured workers betrayed by broken promises - rally on deeming
The Minister of Labour Steve Peters amended the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act with a clear written commitment that his changes would eliminate "deeming" - this practice of reducing our benefits because the Board imagines us to have phantom wages from jobs we can't get hired into, forces us onto welfare and into poverty. He promised but he didn't deliver...
[ONIWG/OFL press release]


May 28, 2007:
Injured Workers' Day (June 1, 2007) - Minister of Labour commits to abolishing phantom jobs for injured workers - will the WSIB do it?
On the 23rd anniversary of Injured Workers' Day, the WSIB is urged to follow through the Minister's intent to address injured workers' poverty with the necessary policy changes to eliminate deeming.
[ONIWG press release]


March 19, 2007:
Vigil at Queen's Park, Toronto, 12 noon - 2 p.m. : Injured workers want an end to poverty
Workers who have been permanently disabled as the result of a workplace injury or disease are falling further into poverty while MPPs give themselves a 25% raise...A 2005 research report by Street Health surveyed homeless people in Toronto and found that workplace injuries played a role in becoming disabled for 57% of working participants....
[Media advisory ? Street Health report ? 2007 Injured workers' cost of living facts & figures]


January 15, 2007:
"Out of sync" - a CBC News investigation into how workplace safety inspections are failing to cover the modern workplace environment. Despite the significant number of injury claims, safety inspections do not properly address non-traditional environments such as health care facilities, educational institutions and offices, and fail to recognize the needs of shift-workers. Audio clips discuss chronic stress and dangers to healthcare workers, including comments by Robert Storey.


2006


December 7, 2006:
Dignity - not poverty! 15th Annual Injured Worker Christmas Demonstration
Photos from the demo outside the Toronto offices of the Ministry of Labour - courtesy of John Bonner.


November 20, 2006:
Ontario Network of Injured Workers' Groups / Ontario Federation of Labour press conference

Injured workers demand McGuinty live up to his election campaign promise to protect worker benefits from inflation. He stated in a letter dated April 4, 2003 to OFL President Wayne Samuelson: "Injured workers and their dependents should not have to rely on their pensions being topped up by welfare payments. We are also studying an approach to introduce a fair inflation factor to protect worker benefits from inflation."
Injured workers say the time is now. No more excuses.
[press release ?fact sheets


Sept. 23, 2006
Remembering Carol McGregor - champion of injured workers' rights and dear colleague
[IWC news release]


April 24, 2006
Dying for a Job (CBC series) - Today's program of the CBC's ongoing investigation on workplace safety follows the case of injured worker Halima Tato over ten months as she tries to get her compensation claim recognized by the Board and deals with the chronic pain and depression resulting from her accident. Her story also is an example of the pressures companies in Ontario feel, and place on workers, to return to work quickly to avoid lost-time injury claims. As Halima's legal representative, IWC's Marion Endicott explains, the Board's experience rating system gives Ontario businesses a financial incentive to do just this.