The Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG) recently presented its submission to the committee reviewing Canada’s performance under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).
Approximately 50,000 of the Canadian workers injured or made sick each year suffer permanent impairments and disabilities. While 50% of these workers can successfully re-enter the workforce, the other half (approx. 25,000) end up unemployed or under employed, depressed, facing deteriorating health status. Accordingly, the ONIWG submission addresses primarily Article 27 (Work & employment) and Article 28 (Adequate standard of living and social protection) of the CRPD.
Barriers to successful re-employment
Systemic barriers faced by injured workers include:
- the use of Experience Rating programs by workers’ compensation boards (WCB). These create an incentive for employers to focus on cost containment following a workplace injury or disease rather than prevention and rehabilitation
- the practice of “deeming” which often happens after a lost time injury or disease where the worker is unable to return to the pre-accident employer. The WCB adjudicator will determine a job they think the worker can do and deem them to be making full time wages at that “phantom job” and reduce their compensation benefits by that amount
- lack of willingness or knowledge among many employers to provide appropriate accommodations to workers with a disability, and the stigma many workers with a disability face in their struggle to become re-employed
- lack of harmonization of employment-related laws and policies, and effective enforcement of laws intended to support workers in support workers in reporting and managing violations and workplace injuries
The submission recommends a holistic approach to assessing workplace issues, and better harmonization of all employment–related legislation aim to create jobs and workplaces that promote health and human rights, especially for precarious and vulnerable workers such as those injured or disabled. [ read the full submission ]
- Furrie, Adele D. et al. 2016. Willing but Unable: A Population in Waiting. Toronto: Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy
- Mojtehedzadeh, Sara. 2016 Sep. 12. “WSIB policy pushes hurt workers into ‘humiliating’ jobs and unemployment, critics say.” Toronto Star
- Turcotte, Martin M. 2014. Persons with Disabilities and Employment. Ottawa: Statistics Canada ( Insights on Canadian Society)