Pushback on the recently announced 30% cut in employers’ premium rates continues unabated. In Rank and File.ca (Oct. 4) , Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups president Willy Noiles tracks reductions in employers’ premiums made since the mid-1990s. According to Professor Harry Arthurs’ financial review commissioned by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), these reductions made a significant contribution to the unfunded liability (UFL). The so-called “UFL crisis”, essentially a manufactured financial crisis, has resulted in injured workers paying the price through benefit cuts and claims denials, a continuation of austerity measures begun under Bill 99 … [read full article]
“This is a helluva swat off premiums for employers.” In the words of Manitoulin-North Shore Injured Workers Coalition (MNSIWG) president Gary Hrystack, “If that much is being taken out of the [workers’ compensation] system and being given to employers, someone in the system will have to draw back benefits… it will force more people out of the WSIB system like the working poor … We may find more individuals being supported through the public purse, through welfare.” [read full article in the Manitoulin Expositor Oct. 5]
Speaking up in the House
While Minister of Labour Laurie Scott stated the cuts were good for both business and injured workers, Niagara Falls MPP Wayne Gates declared the move “a kick in the teeth for the workers of this province”. Other members of the Legislature from across the province have also spoken of the negative consequences of reducing employer contributions for an adequately funded workers’ compensation system:
- Sep. 27. Jessica Bell (University-Rosedale) “In 2016, doctors filed a complaint with the Ombudsman arguing that WSIB systematically ignores the medical opinions of workers’ own physicians… But instead of reforming the WSIB, this government is taking us from bad to worse by cutting employer premiums to the WSIB by 30%. This will mean that WSIB will deny more valid workers’ claims — We can do better.”
- Oct. 1. Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre) “…I was in a courtroom in Ottawa bearing witness and friendship to Norman Traversy .. a firefighter in the city of Mississauga who, for 12 years, has been fighting for WSIB coverage for five diagnoses of post-traumatic stress.. I want to ask you, as you cheer yourselves on, are you happy lowering premiums for some of the wealthiest employers in this province while people like Norm can’t get benefits?”
- Oct. 3. Judith Monteith-Farrell (Thunder Bay-Atitokan) “… When the WSIB fails to live up to its responsibilities—a system supported by employer premiums and WSIB investments—the burden falls on Ontario taxpayers. I encourage members of this House to read the publication Workers’ Comp is a Right.”
- Oct. 4. Jennifer Stevens (St Catharines) also asked if those on the government benches will stand up for injured workers and end the harmful practice of deeming (one of the three demands in the Workers’ Comp Is A Right (WCIAR) campaign).
- In recent weeks WCIAR petitions from the people of Ontario have been tabled by MPPs Rima Berns-McGown, Jennifer K. French, Joel Harden, Tom Rakocevic and Bhutila Karpoche.