At vigils and rallies around the province (Toronto, Peterborough, Windsor, Thunder Bay) to mark Injured Workers’ Day, the question of where the parties stand on workers’ compensation issues ranked high, or in the words of the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups, “Injured workers rally to put all parties on notice.” (ONIWG press release, June 1)
In Toronto, injured workers with families and supporters, legal advocates, community organziations, and labour were out in full force in front of the Legislative Assembly and Ministry of Labour. The large crowd heard from ONIWG president Wally Noiles, vigil organizer Maryam Nazemi (Women of Inspiration) on restoring balance and fairness to a workers’ compensation system that leaves too many in poverty after work-related injury. Hamilton’s Peter Page spoke of the support and public attention garnered by the just-completed Justice Bike Ride in northern Ontario. Tribute was paid to long-time advocate Alec Farquhar on his retirement from the Office of The Worker Adviser (but not, as he told those assembled, from the fight for fairness).
Injured worker activists Alicia, Ralston, and Marvin spoke powerfully about their personal experiences battling with the WSIB for adequate benefits and real healthcare, the additional barriers faced by migrant workers, and the key role played by the Workers’ Comp Is A Right campaign. Speakers Sue James (GE Peterborough Retirees ) and Janice Martel (McIntyre Project) addressed the continuing struggle for occupational disease recognition and compensation. The injured workers’ voice was also heard in song, led by the Justice Singers. Labour leaders Chris Buckley (OFL), Merv King (USW), Michael Hurley (OCHU) and Fred Hahn (CUPE Ontario) highlighted policy concerns (deeming, claims denial & benefit cuts, lack of universal coverage) and the failure to adequately deal with occupational health and safety issues, including workplace violence. They echoed the call by Pam Frache ($15 and Fairness Campaign) for solidarity among the worker community to ensure decent working conditions and just compensation following occupational injury or illness.
A key message of the day: select whichever the party you believe will support injured workers best, but please make sure you vote!
- ONIWG Injured Workers’ Day & rally 2018 album
- Injured Workers’ Day Videos: UFCW ; CUPE Ontario
- CBC News Ottawa. 2018 Jun. 1. “Injured Worker, Advocates Want to Hear Election Talk on WSIB.”
- CBC News Thunder Bay. Jun. 1, 2018. “Thunder Bay Workers Support Group Asks Local Candidates for Positive Change.”
- CKLW- AM800 (Windsor). 2018 Jun. 1. “Injured Workers Day Protest Calls For Compensation Reform.”
- Peterborough Examiner. 2018 May 31. “Vigil in Peterborough Remembers Workers Injured or Killed on the Job.”
- Mantis, Steve. 2018 Jun. 1. “Letter to the Editor: Injured Workers’ Day.” TBNewsWatch
- Macdonald, Aidan & Sarah Neath. 2018 May 29. “All out for Injured Workers’ Day.” RankandFile.ca
(Thanks to Toronto masters of ceremonies from IAVGO, IWC, OPSEU, UCFW and Kim Prince (Brantford IWG) and all who endorsed the event, including ACORN Toronto, Bright Lights, CESAR, Chinese Injured Workers’ Group, COPE Local 343, CUPE Ontario, CUPE 1281, CUPW Toronto, Decent Work & Health Network, Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, FAIR Association, Guelph District Labour Council, Health Providers Against Poverty, Huron District Labour Council, Injured Workers’ Action for Justice, Justicia 4 Migrant Workers, London & District Injured Workers’ Group, Oakville & District Labour Council, OCAP, ODSP Action Coalition, OHIP For All, Ontario Federation of Labour, OPSEU, OSSTF District 12, Peel Injured Workers, PSAC Ontario, South Asian Women’s Rights Organization, Steelworkers Toronto Area Council, Toronto & York Region Labour Council, UFCW Canada, Women of Inspiration, Workers’ Action Centre, Unifor, Workers United Council Canada.)