What were you doing on Monday May 25?
At 8 am that morning, injured workers Richard Hudon and Peter Page started a 600 km bike-ride from Ottawa to Toronto –and they will arrive just in time for the Injured Workers’ Day rally on June 1 at 11 am at Queen’s Park.
Every year on June 1st, injured workers and their advocates rally at Queen's Park.
We’ve done that every year since June 1, 1984 when over 3,000 injured workers and their families demanded to attend a government committee meeting at Queen’s Park. There were so many people that the government shifted their meeting to the lawn for the first time in the history of the legislature.
What was the issue? The government was considering replacing lifetime workers’ compensation pensions for those partially or permanently injured with a lump-sum payment for pain and suffering and a wage-loss system of payment. We were able to stave off these changes for a while, although similar changes were later implemented. Injured workers, their families, and advocates have gathered on the lawn of the legislature every June 1 since.
Richard and Peter will stop in Cornwall, Brockville, Belleville, Kingston, Cobourg and Oshawa before arriving in Toronto.
Along the way they will collect signatures in “The Big Book of Injured Workers” as they move across Ontario to raise awareness (especially with young people) of the poverty track people go into after getting injured on the job. Hudon lost a leg 54 years ago at 17 years old in a saw injury and Page worked in the auto sector until he developed repetitive strain in his elbows. Both have been passionate activists for injured workers ever since.
Injured workers still struggle to obtain fair compensation from the system that the Sir William Meredith Report set up over one hundred years ago.
Today's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) travesties include blaming injuries on age and pre-existing conditions to deny claims. WSIB policies also deem workers to have returned-to-work even if the offer of modified work is not appropriate or safe for the worker–all to cut the worker's benefits. WSIB cuts workers' benefits if they deem a person to be "uncooperative."
Denying benefits from the get-go and forcing workers into poverty and into long appeal processes is the WSIB's new modus operendi. WSIB's automatic demand for a full five years of medical history for every mental stress claim is a massive breach of privacy and confidentiality.
Information obtained by a legal clinic through Freedom of Information requests reveals that WSIB spies on workers who have chronic pain, language barriers, workers who frequently change addresses, and who have "non-average" recovery times. WSIB's red-flags for fraud include travelling long distances to see a doctor, seeing a chiropractor first, if the worker is never home or takes a long time to respond, or if during calls there is "noise in the background."
All of these poor practices that result in closed claim files simply transfers the cost of workplace injuries from employers to a public health care system that is already burdened with non-workrelated health costs. The system needs to be reformed so that the cost of workplace injuries is borne by the rightful owners–employers who are responsible for workplace health and safety.
Come to the June 1 Injured Workers Day rally at Queen’s Park at 11 am and greet Richard and Peter as they complete their journey. Join them to demand that the WSIB system be restored to the honourable system that was set up one hundred years ago. Join them to demand that the WSIB be turned back into a workers compensation system that provides "fair and just" compensation for injured workers. Join them to make sure the compensation system does not continue to put our children and grandchildren into poverty if they get injured at work.