Injured workers held their annual Toronto December demo yesterday, this year outside the WSIB HQ on Front St. Willy Noiles, president of the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups (ONIWG), led off the rally highlighting key concerns about workers’ compensation coverage, the Board’s chronic mental stress policy, denial of time to heal under “Better at Work”, and disregard of treating doctors’ opinions. [Read also the ONIWG letter sent Monday to the Premier on the impacts of the austerity agenda and injured worker concerns]
Also addressing the crowd on return to work, denied claims and health benefits issues were activists Indira Rupichand (Injured Workers Action 4 Justice), Julia Lucas (St. Catharine’s injured worker group), Chris Ramsaroop (Justicia 4 Migrant Workers) and Workers’ Action Centre co-ordinator, Deena Ladd.
Once again, there was strong labour support from the United Steelworkers (Merv King), Unifor (Vinay Sharma), OPSEU (Terri Aversa). Andy Summers of the Ontario Nurses Association called attention to the toll on the province’s nurses not only from soft tissue injuries but also from physical and mental injuries caused by workplace violence and harassment. He repeated the ONA’s call for presumptive PTSD legislation that does not limit the occupations eligible to make a worker’s compensation claim. Prominent workers’ compensation lawyer Gary Newhouse questioned the WSIB’s professed inability to change the traumatic mental stress policy without legislative reform, citing previous instances where the Board had made such policy changes.
Following a performance by the Justice Singers and final remarks, the rally headed to the Ombudsman Office where Willy Noiles and Sang Hun Mun delivered the message that injured workers need an investigation now. Read ONIWG Dec 12 2016 letter to the Ombudsman
- Similar rallies were held elsewhere across the province including Thunder Bay – “Injured workers want inquiry into WSIB: Advocates for injured workers say lack of support placing burden on the taxpayer” / Doug Diaczuk (tbnewswatch Dec. 13, 2016) and Manitoulin – “Frustrated injured workers take their message to steps of the WSIB” (Manitoulin Expositor Dec. 16, 2016)