Covid-19 update: a Statistics Canada survey released August 2020 provides a snapshot on the pandemic’s impact on the employment of working age Canadians with long-term conditions or disabilities – over one-third (36%) reported experiencing a temporary or permanent job loss or reduced hours since March’
Real-life RTW experience is not tracked
The problem is that the WSIB doesn’t actually track the return to work experience of injured workers – whether employment is actually available to the injured worker? or what sort of employment or wages they are able to obtain, if any?
Studies done under prior WCB/WSIB vocational rehabilitation schemes found unemployment of injured workers with permanent disabilities was about 75%. (The Board figures claimed an “employed rate” between 36% and 41%)
Yet according to the WSIB, under the most recent “Work Re-integration” scheme, in 2016 nearly 92% of injured workers with lost time claims returned to their full pre-accident earnings within a year of their injury. But the WSIB doesn’t collect data on what really happens with their return to work experience. It doesn’t have to, because of the practice of deeming.
When an injured worker approaches the “usual healing time” for their injury, they will be informed by letter that they are expected to be able to return to their old job by a certain date and benefits for loss of earnings will cease. On the WSIB’s books, that is another injured worker back to pre-accident earnings, case closed. Whether the injured worker ever gets back to work or is just deemed to is irrelevant…
Barriers to employment
- Labour market challenges – In economic slowdowns, injured workers are particularly vulnerable. The current growth of a ‘just-in-time’ workforce relying more and more on part-time and temporary work reduces employment opportunities – and heightens risk of on-the-job injury
- Deeming – which lets the Board off the hook from its obligation to help injured workers return to gainful work
- Misconceptions about workers with disabilities – according to the “2017 Canadian Survey on Disability”, the employment rate for working-age adults with disabilities was 59%, compared with 80% for Canadians without a disability. Many employers mistakenly believe myths injured workers and other workers with disabilities have greater absentee rates and bring high accommodation costs, despite studies that prove the opposite.