It’s been a busy week in Ontario’s Legislative Assembly as the province moves towards the June election. MPPs raised several issues facing injured workers:
Questions in the House
Deeming – on Monday Cindy Forster (Welland) again questioned why “the government continues to leave thousands of injured workers to fend for themselves after they have been misclassified through deeming as working in jobs that they never held for a wage that they never got…” The labour critic also noted the Premier had failed to follow up on a promised meeting with Thunder Bay injured workers. In response Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn pointed to his government’s record on workers’ compensation in recent years…
Pre-existing conditions – in the same question period Randy Hillier asked what bureaucratic hocus pocus “allows an injured worker to be both free from a pre-existing condition while simultaneously suffering from one?” The MPP for Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington told of constituents denied extended benefits for time to heal by the Board on the basis they were now suffering from a pre-existing condition. Yet requests by their employers (citing the same pre-existing condition) for SIEF cost relief were rejected by the Board because “there is no pre-existing condition” …
WSIB hearing-aid program – On Tuesday MPPs John Yakabuski (Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke) and Lisa Thompson (Huron-Bruce) raised the issue of injured workers adversely affected by the Board’s restricted list of hearing-aid suppliers, a concern voiced by advocates to Queen’s Park from the Hearing Coalition.
Amending the Act
With yesterday’s Bill 31, Plan for Care and Opportunity Act (Budget Measures) 2018, the government included amendments (schedule 37) to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. The changes extend presumptive coverage for post-traumatic stress disorder to six new categories of workers (probation and parole sectors; nurses; police services personnel, including special investigators and bailiffs) and provide for transitional/retroactivity matters. (Similar legislation, Bill 151 , introduced by MPP Taras Natyshak (Essex) in the previous session passed second reading and was sent to Committee before prorogation).
Ottawa South MPP John Fraser’s Bill 145, requiring mandatory WSIB coverage for workers in residential care facilities and group, also passed second reading in the previous session, but has not yet been re-introduced.
Last Thursday Percy Hatfield (Windsor-Tecumseh) presented one more petition from injured workers calling for changes to Ontario’s workers’ compensation system. This is the 20th petition to date brought before the Assembly by MPPs from all parties.