WSIB is failing Ontario’s injured workers

December 8, 2014 at 1:14am

The Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) plays a vital role in ensuring the safety and health of Ontario’s workers.

It is also the WSIB’s responsibility to make sure that injured workers get the compensation and support they need following their injury or illness.

UFCW Locals 175 & 633 believes that the WSIB is failing Ontario’s workers in a number of ways:

  • The WSIB is steadily decreasing health care benefits for injured workers: From 2009 to 2013, the WSIB cut $77 million from health care expenses and spent an average of $134 less per claimant.
  • The WSIB now spends 19.7% of its health care money on Specialized Clinical Services and Programs, including Regional Evaluation Centres (RECs). A REC provides no treatment: Its only function is to provide an assessment to get injured workers back to work – and end their benefits – as soon as possible. So at the same time that the WSIB is cutting workers’ benefits, it is increasing funding for these programs which often provide arbitrary or premature decisions which ignore functional abilities, prognosis for recovery, and medical opinions.
  • Since 2008, the WSIB has removed 19 drugs from their list of allowed medications due to what it considers the high costs of those medications, and it has not made its allowed medications list public. The delisted medications include Lyrica, Cymbalta and Cipralex, all of which are covered under the Ontario Drug Benefit. These same drugs, however, are available through the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), and since the WSIB delisted these medications, many injured workers have foregone workers’ compensation in favour of social assistance.
  • Despite much research showing the severe impact of pain, sleep disturbance and long-term disablement on a person’s mental health, the WSIB recognized injury-related mental health problems in only 1,909 claims last year. This represents less than 1% of the total 232,249 reported injuries in 2013 and only 13% of the people whose injuries were accepted to be permanent by the WSIB in that same year.