Each year on April 28th, we gather to remember workers who have been killed, made ill or suffered a workplace injury and to once again commit to continuing the fight to protect all workers with safe and healthy workplaces. COVID-19 has forced us to change the way we remember this day but more importantly, we also recognize the many essential workers who are facing both challenges and dangers that they will hopefully never have to face again.
We wish everyone safety and health on this important day. Below, you will find recorded statements from ONIWG’s President and Executive Vice-President, and an important new request for your help protecting workers who get sick from COVID-19.
Please sign the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups petition to demand mandatory COVID coverage for all essential workers who get sick.
Despite the fact that countless thousands of essential workers in Ontario are putting themselves at risk every single day to keep our province running, the provincial compensation board is refusing to automatically cover any front-line worker who gets sick with COVID-19 during the pandemic.
Other jurisdictions in the United States and beyond have created what is called a “presumptive clause” that covers every worker who comes down the virus. But here in Ontario, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is still insisting on deciding everything on a “case by case” basis that could result in delays, hassles, and – believe it or not – squabbling over whether or not the front-line worker putting their life on the line in public every day even caught Coronavirus at work.
We believe the many essential workers who are caring for us and our parents/grandparents in hospitals or long-term care homes, the police officers keeping the peace, the EMT trying to get us to hospital, the people working in grocery stores so we can buy food, those making deliveries, and those on the construction sites are heroes. In the event that they should develop COVID-19, they should not have to prove they developed the Coronavirus in the performance of their duties. They must be protected by an irrefutable presumption that they became sick as the result of work, and have their claims approved.
While this is morally the correct thing to do, it also aligns with important public health goals. When a worker who is experiencing symptoms has to worry about lost wages or a fight with WSIB, there can appear to be a disincentive to report those symptoms, which hinders the safety of other workers and everyone in the province.
The WSIB has bent over backwards to assist employers – who have already received a 47% reduction in premiums over the last two years – by further deferring their premium payments during the COVID pandemic. But where is the help for the workers who are actually putting themselves in danger?
Those who sign the petition call on the WSIB to protect all essential workers who come down COVID-19 with an irrefutable presumption that it is caused by work, and approve their claims without delay.
Thank you for your support. Please share widely.
Petition link: https://www.change.org/WorkersCompCOVID
Events today with ONIWG participation:
York Region Day of Mourning – 11am
Click here for a list of all online events in Ontario.