TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - May 16, 2014) - Politicians from all parties must stop anti-worker changes at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and commit to universal coverage to protect all workers in the province, CUPE Ontario President Fred Hahn said at a rally Friday.
"WSIB has proposed policy changes that are all designed to reduce or deny benefits to injured workers," he said. "The worst of the changes would be new injury assessment criteria that require WSIB workers to identify any so-called 'pre-existing conditions.' So if you've ever had a bad back and then you hurt your back on the job, well sorry, but you'll be told it's your fault."
Other WSIB proposals of concern involve policy around aggravation, recurrences, permanent impairments and work disruptions, all designed to reduce and deny benefits to workers injured on the job, Hahn said.
The changes come at a time when the WSIB is accepting claims at the lowest rate in more than 50 years. According to the board's own statistics, under existing policies they have increased the rate of claim denials by 50 percent and reduced benefit payments by more than $600 million.
"Under its current leadership, WSIB appears to think its mandate is to prevent workers from getting support, and that's not acceptable," said Hahn. "Injured workers do not support these changes. Unions do not support the changes. The legal community and the NDP don't support them. Even the labour minister told me he was not prepared to support them."
Only Tim Hudak supports the changes, Hahn said, and has proposed privatizing WSIB completely, which would ensure the focus would be on denying claims in favour of generating profits.
"The job of WSIB is to support people who get hurt on the job," said Hahn. "It's time for all politicians to make that clear to WSIB management. It's time to support injured workers, to stop anti-worker changes and to extend WSIB coverage to all workers so that no one will be left without support if they are injured on the job."
CUPE is Ontario's community union, with members providing quality public services we all rely on in every part of the province every day. CUPE Ontario members are proud to work in social services, health care, municipalities, school boards, universities and airlines.