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LETTER: Labour group still has many questions around WSIB changes

'It is a tragedy how the compensation board has enjoyed such surplus on the backs of injured workers and their families and pushed many into poverty,' says letter-writer
2021-11-05 Barrie Workers protest
Members of the Barrie District Injured Workers Group protest outside Barrie-Springwater-Oro-Medonte MPP Doug Downey's office on Oct. 29.

BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at news@barrietoday.com. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to a story titled 'Labour group unhappy with province's plan to dole out WSIB surplus to employers' published on Oct. 28.
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Bad actors, good actors? No, a systemic problem.

I wish to respond to MPP Doug Downey’s comments that government handouts to employers will not be for the “bad actors” and worker benefits and services won’t be affected.

Who are the “bad actors”? How will you identify them? Are “good” employer actors defined? How will you determine if employers are suppressing claims?

How will your government determine which employers get how much money without leaving all of the process to the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB)? This is not reflected in the proposed Bill 27 Working for Workers Act?

For years, the compensation board has used the practice of experience rating, a financial incentive to minimize claims costs. This rating practice results in keeping employer premiums low if there are “good” health and safety results in the workplace.

Ask any local worker and they will tell you how employers suppress workers filing compensation claims. Why? So as to not affect their premiums and bonuses from the compensation board. If filing claims is suppressed well that would make the employer good as there would be no record of claims.

If your government cannot prove that there are no claims suppression then it must stop the practice of experience rating, which is a moral crisis. It cannot hand over millions of dollars when you do not know the true picture. As our political representative it is your duty to find out.

You say, “There are no reductions to the benefits and services injured workers receive.”

Well, if they receive them. The history is clear. From 2010 to 2020, WSIB reduced benefits by half cutting the amount paid to injured workers by $2.3 billion per year. Barrie injured worker group member experience with the compensation board is unjust denials, cuts to benefits, pensions and years of stressful appeals. Often they fall onto taxpayer social programs.

Compensation is fully funded by employers, not taxpayers, as one cannot sue their employer if made ill or injured on the job. It is a tragedy how the compensation board has enjoyed such surplus on the backs of injured workers and their families and pushed many into poverty. Is this how the surplus came into being to begin with? Who is to get it?

Throughout the pandemic and for years, employer premiums have been lowered and frozen at the expense of workers in Ontario.

Give the surplus funds to those most worthy  injured workers and their families and the thousands of those suffering from occupational disease in Ontario.

Christine Nugent
Barrie District Injured Workers Group

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