As injured workers were gathering outside the Assembly for Injured Workers’ Day, John Yakabuski (MPP for Renfrew—Nipissing—Pembroke) raised a question in the Legislature on the WSIB’s hearing aid program:
“This past January, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board made significant changes to its hearing aid program without properly consulting audiologists and WSIB recipients. They have now hand-picked only three suppliers. As a result of these changes, workers across the province now have fewer options, which is negatively impacting their quality of life … The new system does not save money, but outcomes for WSIB recipients are much worse …”
Responding that problems were currently being addressed, the Minister of Labour said he had been made aware of some of the concerns that injured workers, and the audiologists themselves, have with the changes.. and had been personally been in touch with the WSIB on this issue.
Expanding WSIB coverage to vulnerable workers
Later in the day John Fraser (MPP Ottawa-South) introduced a private member’s bill, Bill 145, WSIB Coverage for Workers in Residential Care Facilities and Group Homes Act, 2017 (An Act to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997). The bill provides that an employer who operates a residential care facility (including rest homes, retirement homes and senior citizens’ residences) or a group home is a Schedule 1 employer for the purposes of the Act.
While employees of long-term care homes and hospitals have the protection of mandatory workers’ compensation coverage, often workers in group homes and residential care homes are covered by private insurance policies, which can vary by employer. As the MPP notes in his news release, many employees of these facilities work more than one job; the WSIB provides total income replacement versus income lost in one workplace, providing greater protection than most private policies….