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Sleepless in Ontario: about Injured Workers Day

Illustration of large rally with the text: "Stop the Cuts to Worker's Compensation - Injured Workers' Day Rally & March"
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A message from the Disability Rights Caucus

On June 1 every year, we commemorate the historic actions taken by labour activists and ordinary citizens who collectively fought for and organized injured workers rights in Ontario. Almost 33 years ago, on June 1, 1983, more than 3,000 protestors gathered on the lawns of Queen’s Park and on the steps of the legislature to successfully oppose the government’s proposal to eliminate disability insurance for workers who had been permanently disabled on the job (learn more about this history here).

We rally on this day to pay tribute to these activists and countless others who created a new standard for workers' compensation in Canada. We recognize the generations of workers who have galvanized and inspired a movement for injured workers rights across Ontario. From the struggles of activists who challenged unregulated workplace hazards in the wake of worker tragedies (like the deaths of five construction workers at Hoggs Hollow in 1960), to the demands to reform a system of arbitrary and discriminatory compensation claims, to the proliferation in the 1970s and 1980s of injured workers' organizations, the movement for injured workers has transformed the lives of all workers. We re-dedicate ourselves to the fight today.

The Disability Rights Caucus (DRC) calls on the Ontario government to act on several demands as developed by the Ontario Network for Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG) in their report What do Injured Workers Want? Platform for Change:

  • the workers’ compensation system is to provide full compensation for all disabled and injured workers for the life of the injury no matter what kind of injury
  • all employers are to share the cost of compensation so that employer schedules and “incentive” schemes, like experience rating used by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), are to be eliminated.

Employer schedules permit some employers to pay costs only when employees are injured. Experience rating provides a system of rebates and rewards for employers based on the number of claims and claims costs. Both of these schemes have caused employers to drive down and suppress claim costs.

  • funding to worker advocacy organizations like the Ontario Worker Advisor are to be restored to levels they were at before the Conservative government began its austerity agenda and cut back basic services and programs to injured workers
  • adjudicators working in the compensation system are to proactively seek medical documentation from workers’ own physicians.

In recent news reports, workers, lawyers, and health-care practitioners organized to protest the claw-back to WSIB services and benefits, and were critical of the arbitrary way in which WSIB claims were administered, arguing that WSIB “systematically ignored the advice of medical professionals.”

Injured Workers Day Events across Ontario

The DRC also calls on all OPSEU members to join in Injured Workers Day events across Ontario. A list of highlighted events endorsed by ONIWG and other worker rights organizations are below. For more information about these events, visit http://injuredworkersonline.org/events/.

May 31 – Women of Inspiration event

On May 31st from 8:00 p.m. join the Women of Inspiration for an evening of poetry and song. Meet at Queen’s Park lawn (south end). Bring your own blanket or chair.  For more information see the Women of Inspiration page at http://injuredworkersonline.org/injured-workers-community/iw-groups/women-of-inspiration/ or email injuredwomenofinspiration@gmail.com.

June 1 – Sleepless in Toronto: Injured Workers Day rally and march

  • Meet at 11:30 a.m for a free pizza lunch
  • The rally starts at 12 (noon)
  • At 2:00 pm. there will be a film screening and panel discussion on precarious work (Steelworkers’ Hall, 25 Cecil Street)

For more information, see www.injuredworkersonline.org

June 1 – Film and discussion on precarious work

After the march, come to the Steelworkers’ Hall (25 Cecil Street) for an exclusive  pre-screening for injured workers of the award-winning documentary "A Day's Work" about a 21 year-old temp agency worker who was killed on his first day on the job.

A panel discussion about precarious work, workplace health & safety, and injured workers will follow the screening, attended also by the film’s executive producer Dave DeSario.

Film screening and panel discussion organized by ONIWG and the Fight for $15 & Fairness.

For details on this screening and the 7:00 p.m. see the Facebook Event.

Peel Injured Workers Day

Peel Injured Workers and Peel Regional Labour Council has organized Peel Injured Workers Day from 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. at Milestones of Labour Monument, Brampton Flower City Campus, 8870 McLaughlin Road, (McLaughlin south of Queen).

For more information, click here.

Justice for Injured Workers rides across Ontario

For  a full listing of rides across Ontario – in London, Chatham, Brantford, Hamilton, Mississauga, and St. Catharines, visit http://injuredworkersonline.org/events/justice-bike-ride/.