In the News
Thunder Bay Injured Workers
Workers Present Their Concerns to Ontario “Pre-Budget Consultations”
On January 10 the Thunder Bay & District Injured Workers Support Group (TBDIWSG) made a virtual presentation to the Ontario Legislative Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs on the first day of the government’s eight pre-budget public hearings which concluded January 26.
In a media conference held jointly with the Thunder Bay Health Coalition the following day, they brought out the three main points of their presentation to the government committee.
“The first is that there’s a growing gap in income inequality in Ontario and right across Canada. That’s not news to anybody. Everyone knows that the rich are getting richer and the rest of us are lagging. And during the pandemic we’ve seen many corporations making major profits, record profits in some cases, while the rest of us were really bearing up under the burden of this health crisis,” stated Steve Mantis who made the submission on behalf of the TBDIWSG.
Mantis continued; “The second point is this growing gap in income inequality has a negative effect on our democratic process or democratic society, including the reduction in public services.” The cuts to public services, the presentation points out, leading to impoverishment and homelessness, has a negative effect on people’s health and wellbeing and in the end increases the costs to the health care system.
Thirdly the presentation to the government consultations alerted the Ontario government to the fact that they have submitted a challenge to the United Nations under the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UN CRPD) which argues that the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)’s practice of deeming is in contravention of this international agreement to which Canada is a signatory.
The TBDIWSG also pointed out to the media that injured workers who were cut off from WSIB benefits while still disabled must rely on publicly funded health care to cover all medical costs and publicly-funded support programs for income assistance and support; costs that should be covered by the WSIB. This means there are significant costs being added to the provincial budget because of government changes that have relieved employers of responsibility for the health and safety of their workers.
“Ultimately, the Workmen’s Compensation Act, now known as the Workplace Safety & Insurance Act, was created to take care of workers who were injured, made sick or killed in their workplace. In exchange employers were protected from lawsuits,” stated Janet Paterson, President of the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups. She added “The WSIB has not fulfilled that responsibility and has offloaded those costs to the public purse.”
To read the full presentation click here.
(Workers’ Forum, posted January 28, 2022)