The Toronto-based Women of Inspiration (WOI), has been meeting since 2004, creating a space for mutual support as women, as mothers and as care givers. We share friendship, information and support with those who know first-hand the impacts of work injury or illness. Together, we learn how to raise our voices and fight for our rights as injured workers. Our group meets in a safe space where everyone from any background, colour or creed is welcome.
About our meetings
We meet monthly to discuss common concerns such as:
- peer support on feelings of isolation, grief and depression
- improving our health and coping mechanisms for physical and emotional pain
- handling frustrations with the WSIB’s compensation claims process or return to work
- financial literacy and practical money management
- accessing income assistance programs (ODSP, CPP) and other social services and programs
- trips to do presentations to MPPs, government officials and policy makers
Recent guest speakers have included naturopaths, nutritionists, doctors and mental health workers, who discuss recovery while legal clinic staff update us on workers’ compensation issues.
WOI values advocacy – both self-advocacy skills (many of our members have taken the Injured Workers’ Speakers School course) and as an organization. We form alliances with other women’s and like-minded community organizations to address not only problems in the workers’ compensation system, but other social justice issues of equity, poverty and human rights. Recent and upcoming events attended by WOI members include Black Mental Health Day (March 2, 2020 Toronto) , the Humber College International Women’s Day Forum (March 7) on Women & Leadership: Equity as an Imperative and SAWRO’s community report-back on the marginalization of immigrant women (Mar. 14).
Taking action, Speaking out
WOI members regularly speak out to raise public awareness wherever injured workers rally and at public education events. They also organize a special night Vigil (link) outside Queen’s Park every May 31st – if injured workers can’t sleep, how can their elected representatives?
Individually or as a group, members work to improve the workers’ compensation system by lobbying the government and their MPPS, through oral presentations before committee hearings, advocacy letters or written submissions to reviews on law or policy reform. Many have chosen also to participate in participatory research projects.
Selected submissions (for a full list check the IWC Library catalogue):
- 2020, Nov. 27. Universal coverage overview.
- 2020, Apr. 23. Letter to WSIB President re: Black mental health & COVID-19
- 2020, Apr. 22. Universal workers compensation coverage and the COVID pandemic
- 2017, Jul. 18. Brief to the Standing Committee on Bill 148: re Minimum Wage Impact on Injured Workers
- 2015, Dec. 17. Please make CPP fair for Ontario workers
- 2012, Oct. 1. Submission re WSIB Appeals Program
- 2011, Jun. 13. Submission to the WSIB (Arthurs) Funding Review
Women of Inspiration members also raise issues of injury, compensation and recovery through song, poetry and writing. See two such contributions by WOI members to the online journal Critical Disability Discourses (v. 8, 2018): “Don’t Write Me Off”, poem and video of Beryl Brown and the article “Salvaging Injured Bodies: Injured Worker Reintegration in Ontario” by Rachel Gnanayutham.