”Widespread’workplace abuse persists for Chinese restaurant workers” / Sara Mojtehedzadeh & Nicholas Keung (Toronto Star, Apr. 25, 2016) and Editorial
A just-released report – Sweet & Sour: The Struggle of Chinese Restaurant-Workers by the Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic (now CSALC) condemns a failure to protect this group of workers, amongst Ontario’s most vulnerable, and presents recommendations to address. Based on interviews conducted with 184 Greater Toronto Area restaurant workers of Chinese descent, the study documents “widespread and persistent violations” of workers’ rights as guaranteed under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act and Occupational Health and Safety Act. (In calling on the Changing Workplaces Review, currently reviewing precarious employment relationships, to adopt their recommendations, MTCSALC notes they echo many made in a similar report 30 years ago.)
Amongst the many violations of the restaurant workers’ rights identified in the recent report: workers’ compensation claims suppression.
58% said injuries were not reported to the WSIB
“Workers also reported … use of intimidation and threats to prevent workers from filing a Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) claim, and use of delay tactics and false records to deny workers access to the full WSIB entitlement. “(p.5) . These workers’ actual experiences reveal what the 2013 Prism report for the WSIB (Workplace Injury Claim Suppression) found “appears to be a real problem” – one earlier identified as an issue of concern by the Harry Arthurs’ WSIB funding review report Funding Fairness .
Claims suppression and experience rating
Preventing or discouraging the filing of a claim for benefits following workplace injury is a consequence of the way the WSIB sets employer rates. While Experience Rating is supposed to encourage employers to make their workplaces safer and encourage return to work, in reality it is bad for workers because it gives employers a strong financial incentive to limit claims costs. In other parts of our social safety net, such as Employment Insurance, CPP and OHIP, employers pay a fixed rate and therefor have no reason to discourage their workers from exercising their right to access these programs. Unfortunately the proposed new Rate Framework will serve only to expand experience rating to even more workplaces.
- Metro Toronto Chinese & Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. 2016 Apr. Sweet & sour [Executive summary – Chinese]
- “Chinese restaurant workers underpaid and overworked, new report says” (CBC News Toronto, Apr. 25, 2016)
- Injured Workers’ Consultants. 2015 Nov. Submission re Bill 109, Employment and Labour Statute Amendment Act 2015 (addressing claims suppression)
- Experience Rating Working Group. 2015 Oct. Submissions to the WSIB Rate Framework Reform Consultation
- Injured Workers’ Consultants. 2015 Sep. Changing Workplaces Review submissions