(contributed by Christine Nugent, ONIWG)
On Saturday November 5, a determined group of injured workers of the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG), organized to present, the Workers’ Comp is a Right Campaign, to the Ontario Liberal Party, outside their provincial meeting held in Kitchener.
The Campaign leaflet was distributed to people in the community and those attending the venue for the meeting.
It was difficult. Most of those entering the venue and registration area for the Liberal Party meeting refused to take the leaflet which would have enlightened them to the three main demands of injured workers in Ontario:
1. No cuts based on phantom jobs!
2. Listen to injured workers’ treating healthcare professionals!
3. Stop cutting benefits based on ―pre-existing conditions‖!
Why were so many of these political people not taking our leaflet?
Shortly before the Ontario Liberal Party meeting was to start, a representative of the meeting organizers approached us along with an entourage of security and we immediately explained our campaign. The end of deeming, cuts to pensions based on phantom jobs, was put forth along with an injured worker explaining how their need for physiotherapy was ignored by the compensation board. They asked if we wished to meet the Premier. Yes!
The motorcade arrived. We shook hands with the Premier and others. Ours were cold while theirs were warm. It was a very cold morning which did not stop the determination of making the politicians accountable.
The premier listened – now injured workers are watching
The Premier asked if this issue of deeming was taken care of. Peter Page, Vice President of ONIWG said that the compensation board had only changed the name to “determining” and that the policy remained in practice and must be dealt with! Yes there is a need to increase the minimum age for workers in Ontario and the practice of cutting injured workers’ pensions by the minimum wage and now the upcoming higher minimum wage based on phantom jobs must end! The discussion with the Premier continued with a clear position: This government under the Liberal Party had, with the help of I.David Marshall, former President and CEO of the WSIB, lowered the “Unfunded Liability” on the backs of injured workers.
This was and continues to be done through practices like deeming, using the compensation board health care professionals to deny claims rather than listen to those of injured workers. Finally Peter condemned the policy of using pre-conditions to deny claims. He went on to challenge that the WSIB has several billion dollars in the bank. Employer premiums were frozen for years and they are now receiving lower premium rates for the second year in a row. It is employers who must fund wholly the compensation system.
The placard said it all: 1400 Injured Workers Pushed onto Welfare Every Month! Employers, not taxpayers must provide the funds to care for injured workers.
The Premier listened. She witnessed the injured hand and arms of a worker present who has been denied physiotherapy funded by the compensation board.
The Premier listened. Now injured workers are watching. They want action.