News

Workers Comp is a Right

December 12, 2017 at 2:57pm

In September 2017, the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Group (ONIWG) launched the Workers’ Comp is a Right campaign. The province-wide drive calls for a strong public workers’ compensation system that operates according to its founding principles.

1. No cuts based on phantom jobs! (deeming)

2. Listen to injured workers’ treating healthcare professionals

3. Stop cutting benefits based on “pre-existing conditions”

Workers Comp is a Right - UFCW Locals 175 & 633

First Demand: No cuts based on phantom jobs

  • Deeming, or determining, is when the WSIB pretends an injured worker has a job even when they don’t, and even when they’re unemployed. The WSIB then pretends the injured worker earns a salary at that non-existent job.
  • That imaginary salary is used as justification to cut that injured worker’s benefits.
  • Frequently, the WSIB deems injured workers to have these phantom jobs even when the worker is medically unable to work or actually obtain employment.
Workers Comp is a Right - UFCW Locals 175 & 633

Second Demand: Listen to injured workers’ treating healthcare professionals

  • The WSIB has a systemic problem: It regularly ignores medical evidence provided by both the doctors and health care providers of injured workers.
  • Often, the WSIB forces injured workers back to work despite health care professionals’ evidence that it is unsafe. The Board often denies treatment or medication prescribed by their doctors as well.
  • This puts workers at risk of re-injury, prolongs their recovery, and is really just another means of cutting benefits.
Workers Comp is a Right - UFCW Locals 175 & 633

Third Demand: Stop cutting benefits based on “pre-existing conditions”

** On December 15, 2017, the WSIB announced it would abolish its policy on pre-existing conditions and review about 4,500 cases where Injured Workers’ benefits were cut as a result of that policy. You can read more in this Toronto Star article.

  • The WSIB’s common practice is to blame ongoing real injuries and disabilities on conditions it claims existed before the work injury.
  • Too often, these pre-existing conditions that the WSIB points to never actually affected the person until they were injured at work. In many cases, these injured workers had no previous diagnosis of any pre-existing condition nor any symptoms.
  • Yet the WSIB claims that the ‘real’ source of the injury was pre-existing and terminates the worker’s benefits.

What can you do?

It seems grim. The current Workers’ Compensation system is not adequate or fair for Injured Workers.

But ONIWG will not allow injured workers to be discouraged or ignored. People who are injured or made ill on the job have the right to dignity and respect. They have the right to compensation benefits for their work injuries. UFCW Locals 175 and 633, as well as the OFL and other compensation advocacy groups across Ontario endorse and support the Workers’ Comp is a Right campaign and its demands.

TAKE ACTION on behalf of injured workers:

For more information visit the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Group (ONIWG) website: http://injuredworkersonline.org/workers-comp-is-a-right-campaign/

With the recent passing of Bill 148, the Changing Workplaces Review, ONIWG hopes to continue the dialogue and education of parliamentarians – Liberal, Conservative and NDP – to advocate for the betterment of injured workers.

  • The WSIB uses cutbacks and austerity aggressively in a market-based approach to compensation. This benefits employers because it keeps costs low, and it forces injured workers into poverty because it keeps compensation to a minimum.
  • The WSIB’s excuse for benefit reductions is that ‘more injured workers are recovering faster and getting back to work.’ Compensation Reps and advocates know that this is not true.
  • Severe conditions and permanent impairments don’t magically disappear.
  • Injured workers experience high rates of poverty as a direct result of the aggressive adjudication of their claims.
  • Ultimately, the WSIB claims that it’s reducing its unfunded liability and putting workers back on the job. But, in reality, it is saving money through claw-backs to benefits which offloads costs on to public systems. This is particularly troubling since WSIB funding comes entirely from employer premiums and the Board’s investments.
  • By reducing, ignoring and denying entitlement and ongoing health care benefits, more injured workers must seek support elsewhere. Workers turn to publicly funded systems such as Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), and Canada Pension Plan Disability (CPPD). And when it comes to CPPD, the system penalizes workers even further. Once they get to the age of 65 and WSIB cuts them off from all benefits, the workers have little more than a reduced – or non-existent – public pension.

#WorkersCompIsARight