“Forced out by a broken system: my endless battle for workplace safety” (RankAndFile.ca, July 23, 2015)
A worker with a permanent disability, enduring persistent psychological harassment and threats of physical violence, recounts her efforts through multiple means and agencies to gain what should be the right of each and every worker – the right to work in a safe environment.
Although her claim for traumatic mental stress was eventually accepted by the WSIB, the writer details how she was challenged at every turn by the employer’s intimidation (constant threats to fire her) and obstruction (withholding evidence filed by an independent investigator, providing questionable “clarified” evidence). The worker describes through her experiences how the breakdown in the arbitration system and the insufficient powers given the Canadian Human Rights Commission highlight the need for government to better support unions’ ability to intervene to protect workers’ rights.
The worker also questions why Ontario’s workers’ compensation board “accepted the company’s empty assurances that it had resolved the problems identified by the WSIB’s own investigation”. She points to the lack of enforcement by the Ministry of Labour or Board, despite Bill 168, legislation aimed at preventing workplace violence and harassment. For all going through a similar battle for a workplace free from abuse, generic safety ads telling workers to “work safe” provide little help …..