“Mental health issues prominent among injured workers: Brantford group gives injured workers a voice” / Colleen Toms (Brant News, Feb. 28, 2017)
A three-storey fall left highrise window cleaner Wes Mahoney severely injured and in constant pain. It also left him battling the depression resulting from his accident and his ongoing struggles with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board for compensation.
His feelings of alienation and anxiety are unfortunately all too common among those encountering the compensation system. In speaking to a meeting of the Brantford Injured Workers Group last Thursday, Trent University professor Fergal O’Mahoney discussed his survey of injured workers which found a clear relationship between the stigma injured workers face and mental health problems.
Helping injured workers like her husband find peer support, education for advocacy, and access needed resources is the reason Kim Prince established the Brantford Injured Workers’ Group. For information on their activities and upcoming meetings, contact the Brantford group at firstname.lastname@example.org (please note, this is a new email address)
The Brantford event was part of a series of outreach days supported by community Legal Aid clinics – including Injured Workers Consultants and IAVGO. These outreach clinics – which are designed to help new injured worker groups establish themselves and grow – are planned over several months. Besides local activists and clinic personnel, the planning process includes input from the Ontario Network of Injured Workers and regional labour organizations.
Outreach days typically include a morning session in which experienced community organizers work just with those who are starting up the local group to strategize about building and sustaining a meaningful local injured worker movement. The afternoon usually combines a guest speaker with one-on-one legal advice for participants and elements of peer support.
The hope is that by providing high profile guests and the opportunity for workers to attain free legal advice, the local group will be able to draw larger numbers and connect with more potential future members.
The Brantford event builds on the success of previous outreach clinics in Barrie and Windsor, and work is underway to potentially bring similar events to communities such as Brampton, Peterborough, and Owen Sound.