Inflation was not an issue when the workers’ compensation system was introduced back in 1915. But by the 70’s and 80’s injured workers saw their benefits being swallowed up by rising prices and increased cost-of-living. Annual indexing is supposed to protect injured workers against the effects of inflation over time by gradually increasing injured workers’ wage-loss benefits. In 1985 with all-party consent Bill 81 introduced automatic annual adjustment by consumer price index so that injured workers would never again need to suffer the “ …indignity of coming cap in hand to the steps of the legislature…” Subsequent legislation reduced this protection from inflation or provided for adjustments on an ad hoc basis until a 2015 amendment to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) s.49(1) came into force, which stated “an indexing factor shall be calculated that is equal to the amount of the percentage change in the consumer price index for Canada for all items, for the 12-month period ending on October 31 of the previous year, as published by Statistics Canada.”
Unfortunately the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s method of calculating the indexing rate is based on an incorrect interpretation of law and policy, using a complex calculation based on comparing monthly averages resulting in an artificially low indexing rate that sees injured workers losing out. The Board has set its 2022 indexing rate at 2.7%, far below the 4.7% increase in their wage-loss benefits that injured workers should have received.
Over the past year the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG) has contacted the Board and the premier to discuss how injured workers are being short-changed by the 2022 indexing rate and this calculation method. Given the lack of response from the government , ONIWG is launching a court challenge to ensure that WSIB does the bare minimum: apply the law and give injured workers the money to which they are entitled. This application is being filed during ONIWG’s week of action for injured workers which started on December 12. [Read full press release]
Another longstanding concern of injured workers – deeming – was raised in the Legislative Assembly last week with Bill 57, Respecting Injured Workers Act, 2022 passing first reading. Wayne Gates (MPP, Niagara Falls) re-introduced his previous proposed Workplace safety and Insurance Act amendment (Bill 119, 2019) intended to eliminate the WSIB practice of deeming. “People are already struggling with cost of living…It’s wrong to take more money out of the pockets of people who were injured at work based on hypothetical jobs they don’t actually have…”