“WSIB’s Reforms: Smoke, mirrors and broken workers” / Orlando Buonastella & Kathrin Furniss (Rankandfile.ca, May 31, 2016)
While there has been recent widespread media coverage of the way in which the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board systematically ignores the opinion of injured workers’ treating doctors and health care providers, the issue of medical claims suppression is one that has been long raised by the injured worker community.
And it’s just the tip of the iceberg – the rosy picture of Board finances and injured worker well-being trumpeted by the Board is starting to show cracks. “The WSIB’s finances are only improving because injured workers have been attacked on all fronts: reduced claims entitlement, premature return to work, blaming pre-existing conditions, denying permanent impairments…”
Using the Board’s own statistics, the authors challenge the alleged performance improvements. Obsessed in speedily reducing the unfunded liability (UFL), the Board’s dramatic cutbacks in benefits paid to injured workers reflect increased claims denials rather than improved outcomes in workers’ health and safety. To add insult to injury, not only has the unfunded liability been reduced on the backs of injured workers (despite the McGuinty government’s promise to the contrary when passing Bill 135) but now – with WSIB expenditures also lowered – the Board has announced a windfall for employers. Beginning in 2018 they will receive rate cuts amounting to $2 billion annually, while injured workers face their mandated losses being made permanent with benefits administered in a way that reflects the reduced revenue coming into the system.
In recommending a way forward, swift and meaningful change requires some immediate reversals… [read full article]