A look back at some of the events and issues impacting injured workers this past year:
- Minister of Labour launches review of occupational cancer to be led by Dr Paul Demers, with report due by the end of November. Experts call for expanded scope to include WSIB’s adjudication of cancer claims.
- Ontario Legal Clinics’ Workers’ Compensation Network publishes What Every Injured Worker Needs to Know: A Guide to Navigating the WSIB Process and Quick Tips.
- 20th anniversary of the Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day , initiated by local injured worker activist and now commemorated internationally.
- Another Toronto session of the Injured Workers Speakers School begins, educating injured workers on their rights and the workers’ comp system.
- Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada releases 2017 Canadian statistics based on accepted compensation claims data that show a growing number of workplace fatalities (951). University of Ottawa study by Steven Bittle and co-authors takes into account alternative data and unreported cases, estimating work-related deaths are under-reported by 10–13 times.
- The Big Story podcast continues focus on what constitutes mental stress in the workplace and the struggle for WSIB compensation.
- Toronto Star investigation reveals WSIB employer compliance checks down 50% since 2016. With move to a “risk-based model”, WSIB audits of temporary help agencies down to 85 in 2018 (from 454 in 2016) despite internal reports finding they are significantly more likely than other employers to break the law.
- Ontario government releases an austerity budget, with deep funding cuts to programs including social assistance, legal aid and workplace safety. Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups (ONIWG) raises alarm bells.
- Italian delegation from Casale Monferrato shares the lessons of the legacy of asbestos in a week-long visit around Ontario.
- Ministry opens month-long consultation on Ontario’s next occupational health and safety strategy while budget cuts to Ministry’s Prevention Office draw criticism.
- Govt announces Workplace Safety and Insurance Board operational review. Focusing on ‘financial oversight, administration, and efficiency’, not adjudication or benefit levels, the review report due by the end of 2019. (IWC submission)
- ONIWG releases whistleblower report on deeming – Phantom Jobs & Empty Pockets
- NDP MPP Wayne Gates introduces Bill 119, Respecting Injured Workers Act (Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment) to address the WSIB ‘s practice of deeming.
- What will injured workers do now? Cuts to legal aid clinic funding set off protests and fightback campaign against reduced services to Ontario’s most vulnerable by frontline staff delivering individual case help, community education and systemic law reform.
- Injured Workers’ Day – for the 36th year in a row, injured workers demand fairness in Ontario’s workers’ compensation system. ONIWG leads the 2019 rally against poverty and privatization.
- Community legal clinics hold a Provincial Day of Action on why the funding cuts should be reversed (ACLCO photo gallery)
- “Town of Widows” released – documentary follows fight for recognition of occupational diseases suffered by workers exposed to Peterborough’s General Electric plant’s lethal legacy.
- Workers’ Comp Is A Right campaign launches its Stop Deeming Action Toolkit – see map for which MPPs have pledged to support the bill.
- ONIWG takes its concerns to the United Nations that the practice of deeming violates Canada’s obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Persons with Disabilities.
- Ontario Compensation Employees Union’s CoverMe campaign posts online petition and economist’s 2019 report on impacts of WSIA coverage expansion in Ontario.
- The death of Enrico Miranda, the fifth workplace fatality at Fiera Foods and affiliated companies, sparks renewed outrage at the rollback of protections for temporary agency workers and others in precarious employment. An Open letter to the Premier calls for immediate implementation of Section 83(4) of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to make employers using temp agencies financially responsible for workplace deaths and injuries.
- At its Annual General Meeting the WSIB announces elimination of the unfunded liability and an average premium rate reduction of 17% in 2020 (ONIWG response)
- WSIB concludes its review of occupational disease claims from former Kitchener rubber workers, reversing 31 of approximately 300 previously denied claims.
- Ontario holds its fourth annual Access to Justice week. McMaster study explores Language Barriers and Workers’ Compensation Access in Ontario and Quebec, noting the failure to accommodate language needs will also amplify racial and gender inequities as well as result in higher costs to society through increased reliance on public health and social benefits systems for those with permanent impairments.
- Bancroft Institute presents Health & Safety Inequalities, another in its Policy and Research series
- The injured worker community, fellow advocates, former staff, Legal Aid Ontario, family and friends join Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic in celebrating IWC’s 50 years of representing low-income workers, community development work and law reform advocacy.
- Toronto Health & Safety Activist Award honours long-time injured worker leader, Catherine Fenech.
- Changes to Ontario’s legal aid system introduced in Bill 161, Smarter and Stronger Justice Act. Date for public hearings yet to be announced.
- Ontario Auditor-General’s 2019 Annual report calls for Ministry to improve inspection and enforcement of workplace health and safety – Minister’s response.
- Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy hosts annual Disability and Work in Canada conference
- Injured workers’ annual December rally calls on Doug Ford to Fix It Now – enact section 83(4) of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act and pass Bill 119, The Respecting Injured Workers Act.
- Information & Privacy Commissioner rules on McIntyre Powder Project’s FOI request: confirms that WSIB’s former policies on handling McIntyre Powder claims are a matter of public interest.