Coalition of legal aid clinics, workers’ compensation lawyers, injured worker groups, doctors address provisions regarding chronic mental stress entitlement and the expansion of Board policy-making powers contained in amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (Schedule 33 of Bill 127, the Budget Measures legislation).
Despite government promises to eliminate deeming, injured workers remain victims of the WSIB practice under a new name (“determining”) . Injured workers share their thoughts on what deeming means to them and how it affects their lives. Their question to the Minister: “Are you going to do the right thing and make the WSIB base our benefits on reality, instead of the jobs they pretend we have?”
Letter to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs supports recommendations in the submission of the Income Security Advocacy Centre calling for increased investment in social assistance and a number of changes in the rules. These investments will improve the health and dignity of low-income people, reduce poverty and the costs of poverty, and give a much-needed consumer spending boost to the economy.
Letter asks the Premier to reconsider the austerity agenda that is impacting injured workers and asks for action on four major concerns: continued violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms by the WSIB in its handling of chronic mental health claims; systemic disregard of treating doctors’ medical opinion; denial of entitlement for time to heal; lack of universal coverage.
A request for the Ombudsman to investigate the WSIB’s continued application of legislative provisions and policy that have been found unconstitutional and discriminate against workers suffering chronic occupational mental health disabilities.
Regarding the WSIB response to its July 21st letter, ONIWG remains deeply concerned that the “Better at Work” approach sacrifices the “safe” part of “early and safe return to work.” The Network reiterates the fundamental differences between the current Work in Pain approach and the previous protocols which recognized that sometimes injuries do require time to heal. The letter also asks the Board to address the large body of opposing research presented which challenges this Work in Pain approach.
In a second submission, IWC calls on the Special Advisors to reject options that will introduce more precarity to Ontario’s labour market and instead recommend legislative changes to protect migrant workers, who are particularly vulnerable to abuse. The submission endorses recommendations made by the Migrant Workers’ Alliance for Change to further migrant workers’ rights, and supports submissions of the Workers’ Action Centre and Parkdale Community Legal Services.
Submission focuses on systemic barriers (including WSIB practices of deeming and experience rating) encountered by injured workers and workers with disabilities when trying to maintain employment following workplace injury or illness. Referencing Articles 27 and 28 of the CRPD, ONIWG recommends a holistic approach to assessing workplace issues, with better harmonization of all employment and workplace legislation. This harmonization should aim to create jobs and inclusive workplaces that
promote health and human rights, especially for precarious and vulnerable workers.
The purpose of this letter is to engage the Government and the WSIB in a conversation about their mistaken and harmful philosophy that “immediate” return to work, rather than “early and safe” return to work is always preferable. Injured workers, particularly the permanently disabled workers ONIWG represents, want to return to work as soon as they are able. However, this work must be safe, and the emphasis on “immediate” return to work can disrupt the healing process and lead to re-injury … Each case should be decided according to the individual injured workers’ situation and “time to heal” should be safeguarded officially by policy consistent with the “early and safe” return to work legislation and evidence-based research.
Time limits on appeals to decisions in workers’ compensation matters, first introduced into the system with Bill 99, have added unnecessary complexity that adversely affects injured workers’ access to justice. Meeting the multiple (and often short) time limits creates an unreasonable barrier for the average worker, especially those with modest education or for whom English is a second language, and proves a burdensome challenge even for experienced representatives.