What if your injury has left you with a permanent injury that prevents you from returning to your former job?
Phantom wage for a phantom job…
- If you are unable to find a suitable job, the workers’ compensation Board (WSIB) practice of ‘deeming’ will pretend you have a job.
- The Board can then reduce or eliminate your benefits by ‘deeming’ you to be receiving the wages from a job that you do not have and have no real hope of getting … (the current employment rate for workers with disabilities is 49%)
- While injured workers support recent legislation increasing Ontario’s minimum wage, it means however that the WSIB can deem workers at a high minimum wage – and reduce their benefits accordingly [see chart of the effects]
- Because of deeming, injured workers unable to get a job and unable to live on their compensation benefits are being forced onto social assistance and into poverty in increasing numbers.
- No Cuts Based on Phantom Jobs is one of the key demands of ONIWG’s 2017/2018 Workers’ Comp Is A Right Campaign.
- The 2018 Backgrounder: The Problem with Deeming discusses the faulty presumptions behinds the Board’s policy and practice
Deeming or dreaming?
Although Labour Minister Steve Peters introduced changes in Bill 187 (2007) that he said would eliminate deeming (now called ‘determining’), the WSIB has in fact since expanded deeming by inventing the concept of “underemployment”. This means that even if a worker can find a job in the field he or she has been retrained for, the Board can still ignore their actual wages and deem them to be earning more than they actually do, if it thinks there is higher paying work out there.
The 72-month “lock-in” provides some protection by accepting that, after 6 years of permanent disability, the injured worker’s earning situation is not likely to improve and so at that point benefits will no longer be reviewed. However in practice that too is now being targeted to reduce the costs of long duration claims.
- Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups. 2017 Nov. 20. Letter to the Minister of Labour on Deeming and the Minimum Wage Increase
- Noiles, Willy. 2017 Jul. 19. ONIWG deputation to the Standing Committee – on Bill 148, minimum wage and deeming (Youtube video)
- Injured Workers’ Consultants. 2017 Jul. 21. Submission re Bill 148, “Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, 2017.”
- IWO Backgrounder. 2017 Jun. Minimum Wage and Deeming.
- Injured Workers’ Consultants. 2007 Nov. 7. Deeming Adds Insult to Injury: Submission to the WSIB on Bill 187 Interim Policies
- Robert Storey. 2007. Deeming – It’s Just Wrong Toronto: Bancroft Institute. (IWHP bulletin, no. 4)