Ontario needs to do so much more to rally behind injured workers in this province and fight for better benefits.
June 1, 2018 is Injured Workers Day. OPSEU members are calling for justice for all injured workers. This includes workers with work-related mental trauma and illness as well as those with physical injuries.
It’s time for the provincial government to bring in universal coverage for all injured workers. Too many workers in Ontario don’t have protection if they are injured.
Workers injured on the job have a legal right to compensation and rehabilitation. However, too often the system is failing these workers through unfair compensation reductions and delays.
The Wynne government has not improved the WSIB system. In fact, underfunding and poor administration decisions have made a bad situation worse.
A new report by the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG) published earlier this year reveals how injured workers experience terrible wage loss and unemployment. This leads in turn to poverty and further health impacts.
The practice of “deeming” is especially insulting to injured workers. When a worker cannot return to work, they can receive WSIB return to work assistance. So far so good, except that these workers are deemed able to work. Statistics show that 40 per cent are unemployed, and have their compensation reduced.
A disturbing new development is what is going on since Ontario raised the minimum wage. The government can now deem that an injured worker has received a wage increase whether or not they are actually working. These phantom wages in turn result in a reduction to their WSIB claim. It seems incredible that the government would see raising the minimum wage as an opportunity to profit from the misfortune of vulnerable workers. But that is what is happening.
Ontario needs to fix this, and create a true wage-loss compensation system. Injured workers deserve nothing less.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
OPSEU First Vice-President/Treasurer