In response to the Ministry of Labour’s consultation on how the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) should distribute “surplus” funds, ONIWG calls on the Board to restore the cuts to injured workers’ benefits and services. “Elimination of the unfunded liability should never have fallen on the backs of injured workers. All cuts that reduced benefits to injured workers while eliminating the unfunded liability must be restored in full.”
The submission details the legislative obligations under Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to injured workers that must first be fully and properly met.
Since 2017, employers’ premiums have been reduced by $2.8B annually while the total annual workers’ benefits have been reduced from $4.8B in 2010 to $2.3B in 2017 – all as the number of injuries, and occupational disease claims, have been rising. ONIWG calls for true accountability and transparency to ensure that the Health and Safety Excellence program, as intended, is benefitting employees as well as the employers rather than being another opportunity for employers to recover their compensation premiums while mishandling injury claims in the workplaces.
Further, the submissions notes that WSIB was quick to defer premium payments for businesses beginning in April of 2020 but refused to consider helping injured workers by offering a supplement to help cover extra costs associated with COVID, similar to that offered to seniors, persons with disabilities and other marginalized persons. The WSIB must ensure that there are funds available for all those affected before looking at how to spend their surplus funds.
(Please note the deadline for sending a message or letter to Minister McNaughton is August 10, 2021. Email the Consultation at email@example.com )