Ontario News

Never lose hope – an obituary for Jeleel Stewart

51-year-old seasonal farm worker Jeleel Stewart, injured on the job shortly after his arrival in Niagara in 2008, has passed away in Jamaica

Read the full article.

Injured workers in Alberta need the same support as other provinces in Canada. Injured  workers can not keep WCB accountable to complying with the laws the Alberta government enacted alone while suffering disability and poverty. There has been no interest in lobbying to investigate why the government continues to allow WCB full jurisdiction and self regulation since the  NDP conducted the WCB review and found compensation was not being administered to comply with the what the workers compensation ACT intended. Is there anyone that cares? 

As part of the 2007 provincial election campaign, Dalton McGuinty promised if re-elected he would designate a new holiday in February of each year to the family. Dalton’s Liberals were re-elected and now we have family day!

Dalton’s Liberals were elected, in 2003, which ended Mike Harris’ reign of terror, or so many injured workers thought…

This is because in 2010, Dalton’s Liberals appointed David Marshall to be president, or more accurately overseer of Ontario’s workers compensation board, the WSIB. Upon taking power of the WSIB, David Marshall falsely claimed to Ontario’s Legislature that the WSIB was losing $900 million a year. David Marshall was empowered by the Ontario legislature to do whatever it took to balance the WSIB’s books!

Rather than increasing premiums to employers, David Marshall implemented austerity measurers against injured workers. One of the measurers was the infamous FORCED Return to Work. This is where the WSIB covertly declared that all injured workers were employable! This was regardless of the seriousness of their injuries or the lack of their ability to work. This allowed the WSIB, a non-profit government agency, to generate multi-billion dollar profits. Where the WSIB’s surplus profits are currently sitting at around $36 Billion (including the renamed “future benefits fund”). The worst part for injured workers is that what has been coined as the “New Marshall Plan” by some advocates, spread across Canada to other workers compensation boards. Thus creating a national epidemic of human & charter rights violations.

The “New Marshall Plan” was a plan created by David Marshall to steel money from injured workers and to give that stolen money to rich corporations. A so to speak modern day Robinhood in reverse. The “New Marshall Plan” was simple in its implementation. David Marshall knew that in order to generate a profit for the WSIB one of two things must happen. Either the WSIB must increase revenue, by increasing premiums to employers. Alternatively, the WSIB must decrease expenses, by cutting workers compensation paid out to injured workers.

David Marshall knew that employers had a VERY strong voice within the WSIB. This was through the use of a a legislated employer committee that the WSIB MUST consult with before doing anything. It is ironic when one thinks about it, as employers have no protected charter rights. Most importantly employers can not vote! Yet employers have a legislated committee protecting their interests and injured workers have NOTHING! Not to mention employers have collective unlimited resources to challenge anything the WSIB throws at employers.

Conversely, David Marshall knew that injured workers had no representation and most importantly no voice! This was thanks to the former conservative government, Mike Harris previous reign of terror on injured workers. Mike Harris’ government, through covert policies, had dramatically cut non-taxpayer funded support for injured workers. This included drastically cutting funding for representation and injured worker support groups. As such, David Marshall, through the WSIB, could do whatever he liked to injured workers. This included human & charter rights violations. It even included overt acts of criminal wrong doing. David Marshall knew it would take injured workers a decade or more to organize and fight back!

Well even though injured workers have lost everything, including our self respect, our dignity, our humanity, and most of all our families, we are slowly organizing to fight back against the inhumane treatment of injured workers!

“Tis Better to die on your feet, than to live a lifetime on your knees!”

** Find us on social media
[email protected]

Tuesday Injured Worker Sessions  

Everyone welcome.   

        May 21, 2024 10:00 AM
        May 28, 2024 10:00 AM
        Jun 4, 2024 10:00 AM
        Jun 11, 2024 10:00 AM
        Jun 18, 2024 10:00 AM
        Jun 25, 2024 10:00 AM

Please download and import the following iCalendar (.ics) files to your calendar system.
Weekly: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/tZMvc-urqj8jGdx8oLoHDzafdC6pa3403u5T/ics?icsToken=98tyKuGvrD8oGdCRuRqPRpwEAI-ga-nwiClEjadFxBDJDAh3eALwMsEUIrMsRIiD

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 872 4234 4938
Passcode: 162521

Is there anyone wanting and willing to help workers in Alberta get their tragic stories out? if you know of any media coverage or someone in media with this interest, please contact us.

From Ontario:

We launched the Injured Workers’ Stories Video Campaign on September 4th!

New Injured Worker features every week with daily short clips.

 Getting good results so far ! :) 

Please share campaign and videos



We are actively looking for Injured Workers’ to share their stories please contact Media Committee here : [email protected]

Please share far and wide!!! 

Here is the post for the poster launch: 


Who is Investigating  Alberta’s Screw-Up?

ONIWG’s response to the Star’s article, “‘We screwed up:’ WSIB to pay out $42M after coding error shortchanged 100,000 injured workers — for 20 years”.  This article highlights the WSIB’s “screw-up” but there are many more to bring to light.

September 13, 2023

Monte McNaughton Minister of Labour 400 University Avenue Toronto, Ontario

Delivered by E-mail
Dear Minister McNaughton,
Re: Injured Worker Cost of Living Adjustments

We read the Toronto Star article “‘We screwed up:’ WSIB to pay out $42M after coding error shortchanged 100,000 injured workers — for 20 years”. As you know because of a 2019 WSIAT decision, the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board determined that there was a coding error with respect to the calculation of cost-of-living increase. They corrected the error and as a result injured workers will get approximately $42 million dollars. This is a wonderful outcome, and we applaud the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board’s decision to admit to their error and rectify it.

We are writing you with respect to another situation where the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board is making a significant error with respect to the calculation of the annual cost of living increase.

In 2006 the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board changed its method of calculating the annual cost of living increases. Prior to this change the WSIB would use the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index from October of the previous year to October of the current year. After this change the WSIB decided to calculate the average Consumer Price index for the entire year and based the cost-of-living increase in the change in the average Consumer Price index from the current year to the past year.

There was no change in the legislation regarding indexing in 2006 that enabled such a change.

The indexing provisions of the Act are contained in section 49 of the Workplace Safety & Insurance Act which states:

49 (1) Subject to subsection (2), on January 1 of every year, an indexing factor shall be calculated that is equal to the amount of the percentage change in the Consumer Price Index for Canada for all items, for the 12-month period ending on October 31 of the previous year, as published by Statistics Canada. 2015, c. 38, Sched. 23, s. 2.

(2) The indexing factor calculated under subsection (1) shall not be less than 0 per cent. 2015, c. 38, Sched. 23, s. 2.

The plain language of the Act clearly indicates that the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board’s change in its method of calculating the cost-of-living increase was contrary to the Act.

From a practical point of view from 2006 until 2021 the difference in methods did not have a large impact on injured workers benefits. During that time, the difference in benefits was .61% in favour of injured workers; that works out to $7.82 for every thousand dollar of benefits that an injured worker receives.

2021 and 2022 was characterized by rapidly increasing inflation. Between January 2021 to June of 2022 the inflation rate increased from 1.0% to 8.1%; since then, the inflation rate has dropped to 3.3% in July 2023.

This rapid increase in inflation has had a significant impact on the difference between the Board’s method of calculating the cost-of-living increase and the Workplace Safety & Insurance Act’s method of calculating the cost-of-living increase. In 2022 the Board’s method resulted in a 2.7% increase in benefits whereas the Act’s method mandated that the benefits should have increased by 4.7%; in 2023 the Board’s method resulted in a 6.5% increase in benefits whereas the benefits should have increased by 6.9%. This has resulted in injured workers getting 2.3% less in benefits than what the Act requires; this means that for every $1000 of benefits that an injured worker received in 2021, they receive $25.49 less in benefits than what the Act mandates them to receive.

There was no lawful basis for the WSIB, in 2006, to change the method of indexing. Therefore, we ask that you intervene in this to ensure that the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board follows the law and retroactively adjusts the cost-of-living increases to conform with the requirements of the Act.

Thank you very much for your time in this matter. Once again, we are requesting a meeting to discuss the concerns of injured and ill workers across Ontario as soon as possible. If you have any questions regarding this, you can contact Andrew C. Bomé who is a staff lawyer at Hamilton Community Legal Clinic and can be reached at (905) 527-4572 at extension 26.

Respectfully submitted,

Janet Paterson

Cc: Grant Walsh, Chair of Board of Directors, WSIB Jeffery Lang, President and CEO, WSIB
Joshua Workman, Chief of Staff, Minister of Labour

June 1 Injured Workers Day Coverage

NDP Injured Worker & WSIB Critic Lise Vaugeois makes a statement in the House on June 1st

West tables bill designating June 1 Injured Workers Day in Ontario: https://www.thesudburystar.com/news/local-news/west-tables-bill-designating-june-1-injured-workers-day-in-ontario

Read the Declaration: https://www.thunderbay.ca/en/news/injured-workers-day-2023.aspx

TV coverage of Thunder Bay Event: https://twitter.com/PhoenixRizin09/status/1664478189064794114?cn=ZmxleGlibGVfcmVjcw%3D%3D&refsrc=email

Worry over pending WSIB changes: https://kenoraonline.com/articles/worry-over-pending-wsib-changes

From the Ontario Federation of Labour:

Wow. What an Injured Workers Day that was! Here’s some updates, and pictures!

1. We put together an email tool to tell Monte McNaughton to scrap the KPMG report. See here, and RT here.

2. Janice gave an impassioned speech at a press conference on May 31st speaking against the KPMG report, organized by ONIWG and ONDP MPP Lise Vaugeois. See here for tweet, and stay tuned for the video clip to be released next week!

3. Here’s some pictures from Injured Workers Day – feel free to grab and share!: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1-IkM6i_Zb-Xejzff4ks-3eI0hJSIhNUA?usp=sharing

40 stories and Referendum on stopping private hospitals

The 40 stories initiative is now up to nine audio & video stories.  Below are a couple of links to view them and find out more.  Please share widely.  

Sign up to help out on June 1st, Injured Workers’ Day.   Your story could be next.  Get in touch if you want more info. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGTbIqlOl6iZNfEFeeWQkG3ts1qQrPAFD

The Ontario Health Coalition is holding a referendum/vote to try to stop Doug Ford and his Conservative government from opening up private for-profit clinics and hospitals to perform surgeries and diagnostics now done in our public hospitals.  We cannot allow this attack on our public medicare system to succeed and we need everyone to VOTE NO in this referendum.  You can do that by going to the  website- publichospitalvote.ca.

Day of Mourning New and Links


On Day of Mourning, unions warn many workplace injuries go unreported

How Jeannie Howe was severely injured on the job at rental car company


Stories from Injured Workers

You can view Janice Martell’s video – a short video of her dad’s story – dedicated to Day of Mourning, here: https://injuredworkersorganize.ca/stories

True toll of work-related death far exceeds WSIB allowed claims – April 24, 2023 

Source: https://www.whsc.on.ca/What-s-new/News-Archive/True-toll-of-work-related-death-far-exceeds-WSIB-allowed-claims

Thousands of Ontarians die each year as a result of hazardous exposures at work. Though data published by Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) would have us believe just 220 workers were killed in 2022. Many believe until the true toll of suffering is recognized and widely communicated, we will struggle to secure the workplace and regulatory actions critical to our shared goal of safer, healthier work.

Well in excess of 2,000 Ontarians died last year as a result of traumatic incidents and hazardous exposures at work, according to estimates supported by research evidence.

And even this alarming toll is a conservative estimate according to this same research evidence.

Still, Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) recognized just 220 worker death claims in 2022. Equally troubling, these WSIB death claims are often the default statistic shared when discussing the number of workers killed each year as a result hazardous work.

“This routine of under recognition in many ways is an affront to the suffering of workers, their families and communities,” explains Andrew Mudge, executive director, Workers Health and Safety Centre (WHSC). “Failure to shed light on the true toll of suffering serves only to downplay the collective need to more aggressively pursue safer, healthier work through enhanced regulations, stronger regulatory enforcement and ultimately workplace prevention efforts.”

Under recognition of occupational disease deaths

While most, if not all, traumatic deaths at work get reported to the WSIB, very few deaths caused by occupational disease are reported to or recognized by the WSIB. This is particularly the case for cancer, lung diseases and other chronic illnesses with long latency periods between workplace exposure(s) and disease onset. Consider, for instance, estimates suggesting between 600 and 5,000 Ontarians died in 2022 from work-related cancer alone.

Under recognition of occupational injuries and illnesses

The experiences of workers and research evidence also suggest significant under reporting and recognition of injuries and illnesses including mental injuries, violence, along with COVID-19 and other respiratory infections caused by workplace transmission. Ontario-based and globally recognized, Institute for Work and Health (IWH) has been studying this issue for decades and believe somewhere between 40 and 60 per cent of potentially compensable conditions are typically not reported to the WSIB and other provincial compensation authorities.

Truth be told this Day of Mourning

“We recognize it is not the mandate of the WSIB to capture the true toll of suffering,” explains Mudge. “We also recognize though a more accurate picture of worker deaths, injuries and illnesses must be prioritized and widely communicated.

Sharing this true toll of suffering is critical to inform the public, government regulators, employers and others of the full impact of unsafe and unhealthy work and lend some urgency to the pursuit of prevention.

“This will be one of our priorities on April 28 as we take a moment to reflect on all lives lost and the many who suffer injury and illness as a result of hazardous workplace exposures,” says Mudge. “Though equally important the Day of Mourning affords us all the opportunity to re-evaluate and recommit to the many priorities we must act on to help workers not only survive, but to thrive.”

April 28 is Canada’s National Day of Mourning to remember workers who have lost their lives or suffered an injury or illness as a result of their work.

To learn more.
WHSC fact sheet A More Accurate Picture of Workers Disability, Disease and Death
WHSC Day of Mourning 2023 resources, including a province-wide event listing
Call: WHSC training services representative in your region.
Email: [email protected]
Visit: www.whsc.on.ca
Connect with and follow us on TwitterFacebookLinkedInInstagram and YouTube.

Interview with NDP Critic for WSIB & Injured Workers

The Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic’s recommendations on the WSIB’s communicable illnesses draft policy

IWC’s detailed submission and recommendations (available in PDF and DOC formats).

Submission of the OLCWCN (Ontario Legal Clinics’ Workers’ Compensation Network).

Injured Workers Day in Ontario on June 1

Hi everyone, 

I hope you all have June 1st marked in your calendar for Injured Workers Day! It will be the 40th anniversary of the crucial fight. 

The planning committee is hoping to feature 40 stories from injured workers. As we all know, sharing experiences is what makes us connect on issues. 

If you know of any members or non-unionized workers who could share their story, please contact Francis Pineda from IWC at [email protected]

Stay tuned for more details for June 1st!

All the best, 

Natasha Luckhardt

Director of Health, Safety and Environment

Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL)


The Ontario Human Rights Commission is doing a survey of people who are experiencing poverty, or have experienced poverty in the past, and also family members, friends or service providers who know someone who has experienced poverty.

This is part of a research project on poverty, affordable, adequate and accessible housing and mental health and addiction disabilities. The Human Rights Commission  is looking at how the Human Rights Code applies in the area of poverty in order to help to address human rights issues disproportionately experienced by groups protected under the Code.

Injured workers are protected under the Human Rights Code, they are specifically included in the definition of disability. Many injured workers live in poverty on little or no compensation for lost earnings because of discrimination known as stigma. There is a widely held misconception that people on workers compensation are likely to cheat the system. Many injured workers are denied compensation by the WSIB because they are deemed to have earnings from a full time job when their realty is that they are not able to return to gainful employment. .

Even injured workers who receive compensation for their lost earnings are plunged into poverty at age 65 when their benefits end. Although Ontario ended mandatory retirement in 2008, age discrimination is still protected in the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

We encourage injured workers to take part in the survey. For more information see https://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/news_centre/ohrc-engagement-survey-connect-poverty-and-human-rights  or go to the survey https://ohrc.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_2gU05GH9CPCLuSy?Q_Language=EN&jfefe=new

Reporting fraud and abuse of the system

If you suspect anyone involved in a WSIB case (person, business, representatives, supplier or health care practitioner) is not dealing honestly with them, you can use this toll-free action line at 1-888-SI-LEADS (1-888-745-3237), Monday to Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. or email [email protected] or contact us confidentially through this website.

WSIB Temporary Employment Agency (TEA) consultation launch

In 2020, the WSIB introduced a new rate setting model for all businesses. Under the model, Temporary Employment Agencies (TEA) are subject to certain distinct classification and rate setting rules. A subset of businesses in the TEA industry (in particular those that supply clerical labour) have raised concerns about the rate setting approach for TEAs that the WSIB originally planned to introduce in 2020. They have indicated the approach would result in significant rate increases for some TEAs. In response to those concerns, the WSIB deferred the implementation of the approach and is now reviewing it.

Phase one of the TEA consultation that launched on May 6, 2022 and closed on June 30, 2022 was to seek stakeholder information about the TEA industry to help support the WSIB’s analysis of the rate-setting approach for TEAs beyond 2023. The WSIB reviewed the stakeholder submissions and used the feedback received to inform the development of a proposed modification to the rate-setting approach for TEAs.

Today, October 12, our TEA consultation webpage was updated to launch phase two of the TEA consultation. The consultation will provide stakeholders with the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposed modification to the rate-setting approach for TEAs and/or provide their views on how TEAs transition to this revised approach. The consultation will close on November 16, 2022.

As with past policy consultations, written submissions should be submitted to the Consultation Secretariat at: [email protected]. All stakeholder feedback is valuable to us and will be carefully considered. All stakeholder submissions will be posted to this webpage following the consultation.

The Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG) is seeking the help of Premier Doug Ford to force the WSIB to follow the legislation and provide the actual cost of living increase of 4.7% to injured workers as opposed to the 2.7% increase decided on by WSIB.

How should Ontario fight inflation? By fighting inequality

Ontario launches first review of occupational illnesses

What does a “fair hearing” mean to you? 
Survey of Injured Workers about Appeal hearing formats
As we move out of pandemic precautions and back into a face to face world, the tribunals that make major decisions in our lives – workers compensation, human rights, social assistance, evictions, and others – are wondering what format to use for hearings in the future. They have been using written, telephone and video hearings during the pandemic. This has proven to be faster, cheaper and easier than traditional in-person hearings, but is it fair?
Injured Workers Community Legal Clinic would like to know what injured workers think. What does a “fair hearing” mean for you? We will bring your views to our discussions with WSIB and WSIAT.

Please take 2 minutes and complete this anonymous survey clicking here.

We thank you for your input.

The province is giving $1.5 billion in rebates to ‘safe’ employers. But critics say companies with serious violations are still eligible

March Issue of “The Lens” from OHCOW

PC’s ‘safe employer’ rebate excludes statistically zero companies

Miners continue to fight, despite policy change regarding dangerous McIntyre Powder

Ontario’s latest corporate handouts come at the expense of workers and their health

Mobilizing in Ontario: USW release on the addition of Parkinson’s Disease from McIntyre Powder to Schedule 3

Uranium miner’s daughter “breaks the trail” for victims of toxic aluminum dust “treatment”

ODRA welcomes the Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters’ Association, Seeks action from the Ontario Minister of Labour to change WSIB laws

February 01, 2022 15:54 ET | Source: Occupational Disease Reform Alliance

PETERBOROUGH, Ontario, Feb. 01, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Occupational Disease Reform Alliance (ODRA) is pleased to welcome the Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters’ Association IAFF Local 162 as its newest member.

Firefighters face a staggering magnitude and variety of toxic exposures on the job including carcinogens, particulates, chemicals, dusts, fumes, combustibles, and numerous other hazards such as heat stress. Yet when these brave professionals we regard as heroes develop cancers, lung diseases, or other occupational illnesses because of those exposures, far too many of them face denied workers’ compensation claims at the hands of the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

“All too frequently these claims are denied by WSIB despite evidence of the multiple toxic exposures these firefighters faced while doing their jobs” expressed IAFF Local 162 President Doug McLennan in a letter of support for ODRA. “We must see WSIB expand the list of presumptions and ensure they are more broadly applicable to all workers”.

ODRA Chair Sue James stated “It is an experience sadly shared by the workers, widows, and family members of the ODRA occupational disease clusters, and we are proud to fight alongside the Ottawa Professional Fire Fighters’ Association for meaningful reform of the WSIB system”.

Justice for victims of Occupational Disease

On January 18, 2022, ODRA members met with Ontario Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton. We presented Minister McNaughton with the lived experiences of our workers and widows that speak to our 4 demands. We provided the Minister with proposals for legislative amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act that are necessary to give effect to these demands.

(See “Justice for victims of Occupational Disease: An Act to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act”, here).

We eagerly await prompt action on the part of Minister McNaughton and the Government of Ontario to enact these needed legislative changes into law. We cannot continue to wait while workers and their families die waiting.

For more information, contact: Sue James, ODRA Chair [email protected]

To learn more about ODRA: https://ofl.ca/advocacy-groups-odra/

Occupational exposure series: Once-thriving industry leaves hundreds of workers ill, battling for compensation

At least 107 Ontario workers have died from COVID-19 they caught at work

Results from a Freedom of Information request shows that 40 workers in Toronto alone died from COVID-19 they contracted on the job. – By Nora Loreto (December 20, 2021)

The Ontario Minister of Labour has said they will be hiring a new President/CEO of the WSIB as well as a new Chair of the Board of Directors of the WSIB – Read more here.

Alberta Workers Comp and Appeals Commission operate much the same: meaning the workers suffer the same injustice, just Alberta does not have the manpower or backing to talk about it so nobody knows, so nobody cares

Our friend John B put together a nice summary of how bad employers – like Fiera Foods – can kill workers and then receive money back from the WSIB.  This is one of the many ways that corporate Canada is taking away the rights of workers – bit by bit.

Temporary Help: A Permanent Shield for Employers to Avoid Consequences


A Temporary Employment Agency (“TEA”) is in the business of supplying labour to other employers.  It may have a head office to address human resources issues like payroll but the majority of its employees are not at their employer’s place of business.  TEA employees are sent out to the TEA’s clients – the placement employers.  Perhaps there’s a holiday rush that requires a few extra people for a short period of time or maybe there’s a special project that requires extra help.  Perhaps it is cheaper and financially prudent to get someone else’s employees to do the hard work and get injured.

Workers Compensation and Temporary Employment Agencies

The workers’ compensation system in the Province of Ontario is administered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (“the WSIB”).  In the context of workers’ compensation, the TEA has the added benefit of protecting placement employers from higher premiums.  Employers[1] in Ontario are assigned a rate group and pay premiums based on their rate group and payroll.  That premium rate can go up or down based on claim costs.

If you had jobs that were particularly difficult or were concerned about the safety of your employee (as opposed to someone else’s employee), a placement employer could give that job to a TEA employee.  If the TEA employee was injured, the placement employer’s WSIB record would not reflect that accident or the claim costs.  That accident, even though it happened at the placement employer while working for the placement employer and the TEA had nothing to do with the accident, would be reflected on the TEA’s WSIB account.

That isn’t to say the placement employer gets off completely free of consequences.  The Ministry of Labour, Training, and Skills Development may still charge the placement employer under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.  Even if the placement employer pleads guilty to the charge, in the WSIB’s eyes that employer didn’t have an accident.

The TEA acts as cover for the placement employer.  For having an accident-free record, the placement employer gets a rebate on their premiums.  The placement employer could look like a leader in health and safety when really it injures workers.

Experience Ratings Flaws Exposed

To understand the source of the problem one must first be aware of some relevant background.  In 2009, the Auditor-General had expressed concerns with the WSIB’s unfunded liability.[2]  The unfunded liability is the amount the WSIB does not have if it had to pay out every existing claim, completely.  The Auditor-General was of the opinion that the unfunded liability was too high.  This was not an opinion shared by all stakeholders.  An example of a common unfunded liability that many people have is a mortgage.  Most people don’t have enough money to pay off their entire mortgage.

In 2010, Law Professor Harry Arthurs was retained to study the problem.  Although it was limited to addressing the unfunded liability, some stakeholders took the opportunity to address experience rating and its flaws.  In his final report, Funding Fairness[3] he addressed the WSIB’s experience rating system.  “In my view, the WSIB is confronting something of a moral crisis. It maintains an experience rating system under which some employers have almost certainly been suppressing claims; it has been warned — not only by workers but by consultants and researchers — that abuses are likely occurring. But, despite these warnings, the WSIB has failed to take adequate steps to forestall or punish illegal claims suppression practices.”

He called for a redesign of the system to clearly state the goals of experience rating and a review to make sure those goals are being achieved.  As one can imagine, the WSIB’s interpretation of those recommendations was different from worker-side stakeholders’ interpretation of the recommendations.

The Problem Is Documented

The Institute for Work and Health (“IWH”) is an independent not for profit organisation that conducts and shares research to promote, protect, and improve the health and safety of working people.[4]  IWH examined the use of TEAs and the way they help placement employers.  The research was published in a journal article in 2012.[5]

Putting a price on health and safety (more accidents mean higher premiums) inevitably leads to the situation where placement employers will “game” the system.  These “temporary” employees are used in the long term, usually at a lower wage than normal employees.[6]  Barring serious accidents that lead to charges, the placement employer does not have to address health and safety concerns because the TEA is the employer.  In the experience rating system used by the WSIB, the placement employer is rewarded for being accident free even if the workplace has seen multiple accidents.

One such example can be found in the aforementioned IWH article.  The owner of a TEA freely admitted that his employees were being used to protect the placement employer, “We [the TEA] were providing industrial labour… to a client. The client was receiving an award [workers’ compensation] for best health and safety practices. That day I had two people… rolled out the back door in the ambulance. The client kept his health and safety record up high because he outsourced to staffing companies all the risky jobs, all the heaviest lifting, all the jobs that required any type of dangerous work went to a staffing agency. So, his record looked… perfect… The WSIB thought he was great.”[7]  To be clear, this relationship is perfectly acceptable in the workers’ compensation system. 

Placement employers’ use of TEAs and their employees demonstrated that the experience rating system was flawed.  TEAs, who don’t have much of an operation, were expected to be responsible for health and safety when that should be dealt with by the placement employer or the WSIB.

Addressing Accident Responsibility

The Liberal Government at the time introduced, Bill 18, Stronger Workplaces for a Stronger Economy Act, 2014.  At first reading, the Bill proposed a radical change, accidents at placement employers would impact the placement employer’s account.  However, in committee the government amended that section.  It was changed to permit the government to pass a regulation to make placement employers responsible for accidents.  According to the Minister of Labour, “Additionally, we originally proposed changes to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act experience rating system. However, Speaker, a lot of time has passed since this bill was first introduced; it was almost a year ago. It didn’t pass in the last Parliament due to delays. The situation has changed since then. The WSIB is currently itself now undertaking a rate framework review, which also includes a review of the same experience rating system. We expect the WSIB will make decisions regarding these changes just around the same time next year.  As a result, it did not make sense to legislate, and then implement, changes to a system that may or may not exist in its current form in the very near future.”[8]

The Government of the day decided to let a problem continue because the system “may or may not exist” in the very near future.  Placement employers would continue to use TEA employees as cannon fodder because the system might be fixed eventually.  The Minister of Labour expected that the new experience rating system would deal with this issue.  To the surprise of no one in the worker community, it did not.

The new risk banding system now in place with the WSIB still permits placement employers to use TEA employees.   Contrary to assurances, there are no health and safety provisions in the new system.  To date, no regulation has been passed. 

In theory, a placement employer’s business could lead to the death of a TEA employee.  The way the WSIB system is set up the fatality would not appear on the placement employer’s record.  A worst case scenario, a perfectly legal one, that the Government and the WSIB was willing to risk. 

Worst Case Reality

As has been covered elsewhere, Fiera Food is an employer in the Province of Ontario that uses TEAs.  There have been multiple deaths at their facilities.  In such one death, Fiera Foods pled guilty to charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act

Thanks to pressure from worker stakeholders, the WSIB does have a policy relating to fatalities, the Fatal Claims Premium Adjustment Policy.[9]  According to the policy, the WSIB will withhold any surplus an employer would get if there has been a fatality at their facility.  However, thanks to Bill 18 only containing a promise to fix the problem as opposed to actually fixing the problem, Fiera Foods asked for their experience rating rebate – for being a good employer.  Notwithstanding the dead worker, Fiera Foods was set to receive a rebate of over $40,000. 

Perhaps realising that paying an employer that pled guilty to charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act a rebate for being a “good” employer is bad optics, the WSIB applied the Fatal Claims Premium Adjustment Policy to Fiera Foods – or at least tried to.  Notwithstanding the dead worker, Fiera Foods wanted their money. As is their right, the decision was appealed.  In WSIAT Decision No.  1386/20[10] the Tribunal found that the policy did not apply to the placement employer.  As well the legislation made it clear that the responsibility for the claim was that of the TEA.

Refusing to Fix the Problem

Seasoned workers compensation representatives will know that there is a WSIB policy called, “Transfer of Costs”.[11]  The policy title tells the story: the WSIB has a policy to transfer claim costs from one employer to another employer.  No TEA would ever ask for a transfer – it wouldn’t pay to make their client pay.  Even the Panel in WSIAT Decision No. 1386/20 noted the WSIB didn’t even bother to try to address the problem via a Transfer of Costs decision.

Debts to Pay

Thanks to the Auditor-General’s concern for the unfunded liability, the WSIB made aggressive moves to reduce the liability, by cutting expenses by 50% (medical and financial benefits to injured and disabled workers), to the point where the WSIB now has a surplus – if the WSIB paid out all current claims completely, the WSIB would have money left over.

The current government has not directed the WSIB to improve benefits.  The current government has not looked for shortcomings in the system that should be addressed.  Instead of fixing a problem like the use of TEAs to avoid claim costs, the current government is more interested in giving money back to employers.  Bill 27, which passed November 30, 2021, permits the WSIB to give money to employers.

The TEA loophole to avoid claims continues to exist.  And companies like Fiera Foods that had multiple fatalities will be getting their share of that three billion dollar surplus.

[1] Employers in “Schedule 1” to be precise.  There are two schedules for employers that must have WSIB coverage.  Schedule 1 employers pay premiums and are the vast majority of employers.  Schedule 2 employers are largely government related and pay dollar for dollar of claim costs.

[2] https://www.auditor.on.ca/en/content/annualreports/arreports/en09/314en09.pdf

[3] https://www.wsib.ca/sites/default/files/2019-03/fundingfairnessreport.pdf

[4] http://www.iwh.on.ca

[5]  MacEachen E, Lippel K, Saunders R, Kosny A, Mansfield L, Carrasco C, Pugliese D “Workers’ compensation experience-rating rules and the danger to worker’s safety in the temporary work agency sector” 2012 10:1 Policy and Practice in Health and Safety 77-95.

[6] The Government would fix unequal pay to some degree in 2018.

[7] Supra, note 5, 83.

[8] Ontario, Legislative Assembly, Official Reports of Debates (Hansard), 41st Parl, 1st Sess (05 November 2014) https://www.ola.org/en/legislative-business/house-documents/parliament-41/session-1/2014-11-05/hansard#para1188

[9] https://www.wsib.ca/en/operational-policy-manual/fatal-claim-premium-adjustment

[10] https://www.canlii.org/en/on/onwsiat/doc/2021/2021onwsiat1387/2021onwsiat1387.html

[11] https://www.wsib.ca/en/operational-policy-manual/transfer-costs

About the newly formed Occupational Disease Reform Alliance (ODRA):        https://cpcml.ca/WF2021/Articles/WO081123.HTM

About the Submission on Bill 27 from IWC:  https://cpcml.ca/WF2021/Articles/WO081122.HTM

Bill 27 overview: https://cpcml.ca/WF2021/Articles/WO081121.HTM

Below is an op-ed that ran in the August 20 Toronto Star.  It was written by Kathleen Ruff.  Many of you may know her as one of the leading advocates for the international banning of asbestos production and use.

Kathleen was highlighting the prevalence of violence faced by healthcare workers in Canada, the vast majority of whom are women as well as many drawn from racialized communities.  She was also flagging the release of our book on violence – Code White – Sounding the Alarm on violence against health care workers.  It will be released on September 1st at a press conference sponsored by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions.

The book is based on three studies we published in New Solutions in the last four years.  We are acknowledging the important role that Craig Slatin played in helping us shape this research.

I know that the issue of violence in healthcare is a serious issue for American occupational health activists.  I hope that this book can be seen as an act of solidarity with healthcare workers around the globe.
Below – after the Toronto Star article – there is a link to the book.

Opinion | Stop the violence against health-care workers


Why a GTA woman is still fighting the WSIB for help a decade after her sister fell ill

McIntyre Story

PLEASE NOTE: Not all documents from our Freedom of Information request were released by WSIB, and some documents were redacted (portions blacked out) by WSIB.

FOLDER Tabs 101-200 – This link should provide you with access to a folder containing WSIB-released documents from Tabs 101-200. https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1CE0xCQzlzNoxPf3sCxwoxJOJFg7SVLGA?usp=sharing

A View from the U.S.

As we know, our workers compensation system in Ontario has been under attack for the past 30 years. Finding ways to cut benefits to injured and disabled workers and cutting costs to employers. We are not alone. Below is the link to a report by the US Department of Labour done about 5 years ago near the end of Obama’s administration.  

Take a look at the executive summary and you will see a lot of similarities in the States to what we see happening in Ontario.

Let’s keep up the fight for workers’ rights and look for ways to build our movement.


Read more here.

An interview with Katherine Lippel on the TV show Community Conversations. As you may know, Katherine is a professor at the University of Ottawa and the distinguished research chair in occupational health and safety law.  She has been involved for more that 40 years and is a friend to workers and supporter of workers rights.

Does WCB label injured workers to avoid compensating non-organic , non-discernible chronic pain? The Supreme Court of Canada Martin/Laseur  2003 SCC 54, all disabled chronic pain suffers should be treated equal it is their human right. Do you have a complaint for Human Rights? 

York University of Toronto conducted a new research on chronic pain “Chronic Pain, Psychopathology, and DSM-5 Somatic Symptom Disorder”.

Please review the article below

The new Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, Somatic symptom disorder overpsychologizes people with chronic pain; it has low sensitivity and specificity, and it contributes to misdiagnosis, as well as unnecessary stigma. Adjustment disorder remains the most appropriate, accurate, and acceptable diagnosis for people who are overly concerned about their pain.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, and Chronic Pain
The golden rule: an underlying medical illness or medication side effect has to be ruled out before ever deciding that someone’s symptoms are caused by mental disorder. . . . There are serious risks attached to over-psychologizing somatic symptoms and mislabeling the normal reactions to being sick − especially when the judgments are based on vague wording that can’t possibly lead to reliable diagnosis. DSM-5 as it now stands will add to the suffering of those already burdened with all the cares of having a medical illness.

2 major criticisms have been levelled against the DSM-5: diagnostic inflation and inadequate field testing. Both appear to apply to the new diagnostic category of SSD. The main criticism of SSD is the high probability of misdiagnosing a medical illness, including chronic pain conditions, as a mental illness. Further, the conditions that qualify for a diagnosis of SSD are extremely variable. They include a highly mixed group of patients with medically unexplained symptoms, medical patients with significant symptoms of emotional distress, patients with typical chronic pain conditions (for example, low-back pain, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis) and patients with health-related anxiety.

…given the problems with current diagnostic criteria for SSD, noted above, alternative diagnoses have been suggested as appropriate for people with chronic pain; including, psychological factors affecting other medical conditions and adjustment disorder. The distinction between SSD and psychological factors affecting other medical conditions is not clear-cut, especially for people with chronic pain conditions, as both involve a diagnosable medical condition. For SSD, the emphasis is said to be on “maladaptive thoughts, feelings and behavior,” whereas for psychological factors affecting other medical conditions the emphasis in on “the exacerbation of the medical condition.” This distinction seems arbitrary for people with chronic pain, as pain is known to produce worry and worry is known to exacerbate pain. Until the criteria for SSD are appropriately revised, adjustment disorder is a “safer and more accurate” diagnosis when one is needed for someone who is “medically ill or otherwise troubled by puzzling symptoms” Chronic pain is highly comorbid with anxiety and depression.