As part of their submissions to the Ontario Government’s pre-budget consultation, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) calls on the province to extend workers’ comp coverage to everyone in the province.
Though many people assume everyone in Ontario is entitle to WSIB benefits if they get hurt on the job, in fact only about 72% of workers fall under the protective umbrella of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act – the lowest covered percentage of any provincial workforce in Canada. As the CoverMeWSIB.ca campaign states, this leaves more than one and a half million Ontarians at risk of losing everything if they are injured at work. “WSIB is funded by employers, not the public,” that campaign reminds us, “however, the public pays all health care and social assistance costs for injured workers with no WSIB coverage.”
That is why the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) has recommended a change to coverage laws to include every worker in the province, along with a handful of other improvements that align with the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups’ ongoing Workers’ Comp Is A Right campaign.
See an excerpt from the OFL written submission below:
When workers are injured on the job, they have a right to full compensation; a right to be treated with dignity and respect; and a right to be provided with needed support. In Ontario, these rights are being violated.
Not every worker in this province is covered by the workers’ compensation system. For those who do have coverage, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is focused on reducing its own costs on the backs of injured workers. They appear to be unconcerned by the thousands of workers who are driven into poverty and desperation when their benefits are slashed or when access to their entitlements are denied.
This government appears to be no different. Under the guise of “cost savings”, the Ford government has prioritized employers over injured workers.
In September 2018, the WSIB announced an across-the-board average premium reduction to employers of nearly 30 per cent – in addition to the 10 per cent rate reduction gifted to employers over the last few years. This means that the WSIB has eliminated its unfunded liability largely at the expense of providing benefits to injured workers and ensuring workplace health and safety.
Ontario’s austerity agenda is increasingly making workers more disposable and eroding fairness in the workplace.
Precarious work means unsafe work.
Ensure that every worker in Ontario has universal access to workers’ compensation.
Expand funding for the prevention of occupational injury, illness, and disease in order to build safer workplaces.
Abolish the WSIB’s unfair practice of deeming: return to a system where benefits are based on a pre-existing impairment (i.e., prior to a workplace injury) and craft a clear policy that prioritizes and respects the evidence put forward by medical professionals.
Eliminate experience ratings in all its forms and ensure that health and safety is included in setting employer premiums.
(To read the OFL’s oral presentation before the Committee and those of other organizations, see the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs transcripts (January 15, 2019- )