Ontario Network of Injured Workers' Groups

September 25, 2007 15:50 ET

Which Party Speaks for Injured Workers?

Attention: Assignment Editor, Media Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 25, 2007) - As the leaders of Ontario's political parties criss-cross the province making commitments on all manner of things, Ontario's injured workers hear only deafening silence on the issues of concern to them.

"Who speaks for injured workers? Who will respond to their economic plight and help restore dignity to their lives?" asks Karl Crevar Treasurer of the Ontario Network of Injured Workers' Groups (ONIWG).

ONIWG has met with representatives of Governments and opposition parties for more than two decades promoting the interests of the hundreds of thousands of Ontario citizens who, every year are injured or disabled by workplace accidents and disease.

"Elections are the time when voters have a special opportunity to question those who would govern on important matters of public policy. Yet the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), an agency with an annual revenue of $3 billion which intimately affects the lives of millions of Ontarians (there are 300,000 new claims every year) is completely absent from the debate," Crevar added.

ONIWG asks all political parties if they will respond to four key concerns with the WSIB.

Cost-of-Living:

In the decade ending in 2006 injured workers have lost 20.5% of their already paltry income to inflation. While the politicians gave themselves Christmas raises of 25% in December 2006, injured workers received a lump of coal. After 10 years of decreasing purchasing power they were granted a 2.5% increase this year. While this raise will stop the slide in the value of their benefits for now, injured workers are still more than 20% behind and will still be forced to go to the legislature "cap-in-hand" for future increases.

Before Injured workers vote on October 10 they want to know:

Who will provide full-indexation for WSIB benefits?

Deeming:

Permanently disabled workers see their benefits reduced because the WSIB deducts wages they imagine the injured worker could be earning. The Board makes no attempt to determine if the worker actually has a job or actually earns income. They simply gaze into their crystal ball and tell the injured worker you could be earning this amount and wave a magic wand and make benefits disappear.

The Minister of Labour promised that recent amendments to the WSI Act would eliminate this absurd practice but the WSIB continues to develop and implement policies that will reduce injured workers benefits because the Board believes they could have a job with no evidence that the job actually exists for that worker.

Before Injured workers vote on October 10 they want to know:

Who will eliminate deeming?

Experience Rating:

Experience Rating is a system where some employers are rewarded for low accident rates by receiving rebates from the compensation system and other employers with more lost time injuries are required to pay penalties. The problem is that usually this program pays out more in rebates than it receives in penalties, taking the extra funds out of the money collected by the WSIB for injured workers. Since 1996 the rebates
paid to employers exceed the penalties imposed by more than $2 billion. This $2 billion comes out of the premiums collected to pay compensation to injured workers. In theory rewarding employers for safe workplaces may make sense. In practice, the system doesn't work. Employers are rewarded for hiding accidents and for forcing workers back to work before they are properly rehabilitated. At a time when the WSIB claims it has financial obligations it can't meet to justify ignoring the economic misery of injured workers, it makes no sense to be giving away $2 billion.

Before Injured workers vote on October 10 they want to know:

Who will eliminate the experience rating system?

Full Coverage:

As strange as it seems in 2007 only two in three Ontario workers are included in the compensation system. Latest statistics indicate that 35% of workers in the province are not covered by the workers' compensation legislation. Those without coverage face the prospect of poverty and social assistance if the consequences of their injury are long-term. In addition the continued exclusion of so many workers from the compensation system undermines one of the fundamental founding principle of the system - collective liability.

Before Injured workers vote on October 10 they want to know:

Who will ensure all Ontario workers have access to the compensation system?

ONIWG is the largest network of injured workers groups in Ontario representing 23 injured worker groups in every part of the province.

- 30 - /For further information: Karl Crevar
Treasurer
1.905.662.7128

Rolly Marentette
South Western Regional Representative
1.519.969.7237/ IN: LABOUR, MEDIA, POLITICS, OTHER

Contact Information

  • Steve Mantis, Secretary
    Primary Phone: 807-767-9633