Justice for injured workers! No to Marshall bonus and contract renewal! No to new benefit policies and cuts based on pre-existing conditions and age that attack injured workers’ rights and drive them further into poverty… No to stigma and baseless surveillance. Those were the messages delivered by injured workers, labour, community legal workers in the 23rd annual Xmas demo outside the Ministry of Labour today, organized by the Ontario Network of Injured Workers groups (ONIWG) and Toronto Injured Workers Advocacy Groups (TIWAG). A large media presence was there to capture this message, delivered also in person to the Minister, Kevin Flynn.
Injured workers, family and supporters came from across the province (Barrie, Niagara, Ottawa, Manitoulin) to join Toronto injured worker groups. As one speaker pointed out, funding cuts to injured workers groups meant many more were unable to attend. Thunder Bay District & Injured Workers Support group held a similar rally today for northern injured workers. Labour was represented in force by the Ontario Federation of Labour, United Steelworkers, United Foodworkers, CUPE Ontario, Unifor, community legal clinics by Injured Workers’ Consultants (IWC) and Industrial Accident Victims’ Groups of Ontario (IAVGO).
Speeches drew attention to the Board’s “dirty laundry”, its harmful practices and the need to return Ontario’s workers’ compensation system to the one based on Meredith’s principles – one that puts back fair compensation for as long as the injury lasts as the core purpose (“no half-measures”). Entertainment was provided by the Justice Singers with Wally Brooker, while Woman of Inspiration group member Sylvia Clarke read one of her poems.
In introducing the Minister, IAVGO also reminded him of the plight of seasonal migrant workers who, if injured, are often sent home rather than receive the needed timely healthcare in Ontario. Minister Flynn reiterated the government promise to address indexation of partial-disability benefits. In response long-time activist Karl Crevar welcomed this commitment but, like many others today, warned the Government against removing the 72-month lock-in and with it, any financial stability for those with permanent disabilities.
- Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups. 2014 Dec. 8. Workers to Air the WSIB’s Dirty Laundry outside Ministry of Labour
- Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE-Ontario). 2014, Dec. 8. WSIB Changes Harming, Not Helping Injured Workers
- Ontario Federation of Labour. 2014, Dec. 5. Workplace Fatalities Reach 5-Year High while WSIB Pays Millions to Convicted Companies and Meager Benefits to Victims