CBC Radio Up North contacted Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn for his response, broadcast May 29, to their recent interview with advocate Marion Endicott (of Injured Workers’ Consultants). In the May 21st radio show, Marion spoke on current concerns with Ontario’s workers’ compensation system, in particular changes the Premier had directed the Minister to look at regarding removal of the 72-month lock-in of benefits for workers with permanent disabilities. (note: as of Oct 2017, broadcasts no longer available on CBC website)
Marion commented that instead of getting a pension and getting on with their lives, these injured workers would be subjected to a lifetime of scrutiny by the WSIB bureaucracy.
Minister Flynn noted that some employers had raised concerns about the lock-in provision and injured workers taking advantage of the system (a stereotype still, it seems, utilized). However as a result of dialogue with injured workers (a recognition of the efforts of the ONIWG delegation) the Minister said he understood there is another side to the issue and would take a longer look. It was not therefore included in his recent labour amendments in Bill 109 which introduced several positive changes for injured workers.
The issue is, however, not shelved. The Minister suggested it will be further debated in the Fall sitting. He expressed confidence that when removed, injured workers would not be subjected to continual scrutiny or harassment in determining if they were able to return to work. Injured workers may be less sure, especially given deeming practices.
The underlying concerns raised by the advocate remain: the need to improve the long-term financial security of injured workers with permanent disabilities – in line with Meredith’s principle of compensation for as long as the disability lasts, the legal, historical and moral basis of Ontario workers’ compensation.
IWO Backgrounder. 2014 Nov. Deeming and the Lock-In