TORONTO, ON--(Marketwired - September 14, 2016) - In the wake of mounting public criticism, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is holding what advocates believe to be its first Annual General Meeting this morning in over a decade. Injured workers will be protesting in front of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to call attention to the private, invite-only event in the midst of growing public concern with its dealings.
"The WSIB is more concerned about pleasing the corporate lobby with this AGM rather then being accountable to the public who actually depend on this system and are being destroyed by it," says Sang-Hun Mun, an injured worker and organizer with Injured Workers Action for Justice.
An ongoing series of Toronto Star investigations has exposed some of WSIB's practices that are pushing people into financial and emotional crisis. Last November, several psychologists came forward to call for the Ontario Ombudsman to investigate how the WSIB ignores the opinions of treating health care providers. And, in June, over 140 doctors, legal clinics, immigrant rights groups, labour organizations and community members signed an open letter calling for immediate changes at WSIB.
Despite the ongoing public backlash, the WSIB will announce at the AGM that they will reduce employer premiums effective January 1, 2017, taking $250 million out of compensation payments to impoverished injured workers and giving it to corporations.
"It's horrifying that the WSIB is reducing employer premiums at a time when their policies are causing so many injured workers to go into crisis. The WSIB and the Wynne government have lost touch of what it means to foster a fair and open system," says Catherine Fenech, with the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups.
During the AGM, injured workers will be protesting the secretive meeting and harsh austerity agenda that WSIB has imposed on them. They will be hosting a lemonade stand to highlight that the "WSIB is selling us lemons." There will be large and colourful signs identifying what lemons the WSIB has tried to sell the public, including: their secretive AGM despite claims of openness; and, a new President and Chief Operating Officer who, 6 months in, is maintaining the same harsh cost cutting agenda of his predecessor.
The action will take place at Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 155 Front Street West, at 8:00 am (front street entrance).