It’s time for the Ontario government to reverse the effects of a law that has caused injured workers to lose 20 per cent in compensation earnings over the last decade while providing savings and reward payments to employers, says the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.
At rallies in cities including Toronto, Windsor and St. Catharines, the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG) and partners, including CUPE Ontario, today called on the McGuinty government to make full restitution of the losses that injured workers have incurred since Bill 99 was introduced in 1997. That law introduced cost-of-living cuts in pensions and future awards for injured workers. Over the same decade, employers have received a 25 per cent reduction in what they pay for workers compensation.
“Like much of what we see in today’s economy, this law has shifted the burden of employment and social responsibilities from corporations onto the backs of workers in this province,” said CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Fred Hahn at a rally held in front of the Minister of Labour’s Toronto offices. “If the McGuinty government is truly committed to poverty reduction, it must act on behalf of those workers who have sacrificed their health in workplaces to build Ontario and its economy.”
Hahn and other speakers outlined four steps that the Provincial government can take to ensure that injured workers and their families do not continue to fall into poverty and that employers pay their fair share:
· The government must fully restore the 20 per cent of earnings losses incurred by injured workers over the last decade. A meager cost-of-living increase of 2.5 per cent in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively, will not lift injured workers out of poverty.
· Injured workers who cannot return to their jobs must be provided with their actual lost wages, not a ‘deemed’ or ‘determined’ amount calculated by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Currently, the Board assesses what an injured worker would be paid in an alternative suitable job.
· Incentives and rebates paid to employers who reduce their accident rates must be examined carefully. Too many employers are under-reporting accidents, forcing injured workers back to work before they are medically able, or paying sick benefits rather than claiming benefits to make their numbers look better.
· There must be mandatory WSIB coverage for all Ontario workers regardless of business size or industry type.
For more information, contact:
Valerie Dugale CUPE Communications 647-225-3685
Fred Hahn CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer 416-540-3979