TORONTO, ON – Changes to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) are forcing more workers into poverty because of changes to the claims process that are denying benefits to workers injured on the job through no fault of their own, says Fred Hahn, president of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario, the largest union in the province.
“The WSIB is supposed to be a public system to support workers injured on the job until they can go back to work,” said Hahn. “But changes in recent years have reduced benefits to workers injured on the job and are designed to prevent workers from receiving benefits.” Worse still, as a study by the Ontario Federation of Labour revealed in November, employers guilty of killing a worker are being rewarded with rebates on their WSIB premiums. Over a three-year period, 135 employers convicted of offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) received rebates, mostly in the same year they’d committed the offense. “That’s not just offensive, it’s dangerous. Employers who are guilty of killing a worker should go to jail, not get millions in WSIB rebates,” said Hahn.
WSIB was created more than 100 years ago as a public system to support workers injured on the job, and the Wynne government must stop the anti-worker changes, he said. CUPE represents nearly 250,000 workers in Ontario, including WSIB staff. “We represent workers in this system – people took jobs that would help injured workers, people who want to be part of a strong social safety net,” said Hahn. “Sadly, that’s not what WSIB management or the Liberals want. Increasingly, workers at WSIB have no discretion that would allow them to help injured workers, and there are fewer people to do the work.”
CUPE Ontario is calling on the provincial government to reverse the anti-worker changes at WSIB, to expand the system so that it covers all workers, and to restore the protective mandate of the system. “Our union has been part of this and other events calling for changes for many years,” said Hahn. “We will continue until there is justice for injured workers.”
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.
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