A war of words is brewing over changes at the WSIB and The Toronto Star seems to be the chosen battlefield.
In recent weeks, the newspaper has covered a number of stories that are critical of changes in how the WSIB is treating injured workers and then opinion pieces by former WSIB chair Odoardo Di Santo and past president of the Ontario Federation of Labour Gordon Wilson.
On July 4th, Kate Lamb, Chief of Corporate Services at WSIB, weighed in with a rebuttal. The most contentious issue appears to be the WSIB's proposed policy to look at a worker's pre-existing medical conditions when it comes to the amount paid out in pension and other long-term worker benefits.
Here's a summary of what's being said:
He is disburbed by a trend towards a reduction in worker benefits since David Marshall took over the role in 2010, rather than a focus on increasing "the revenue side," including:
Di Santo also claims that David Marshall was granted the "unprecedented authority to change autocratically most WSIB policies without board approval." He is extremely critical of the "infamous" pre-existing condition policy and claims that the board has already begun "illegally implementing the policy."
*** Please see the WSIB's rebuttal below.
Mr. Wilson states that there are "over 8,000 workers within Ontario who have claims that have been denied, many without a hearing at the WSIB of their initial claim" and are waiting for an Appeal that may never happen due to the slow-moving Appeals process.
He makes the inflamatory claim that "some employers, aided by bureaucrats with the MOL and its subordinate body the Prevention Office, have developed a strategy that compliments (sic) the denial of worker benefits." He states that businesses can implement ineffective Health & Safety programs and "when workers pay the price, have the WSIB deny their benefits."
Wilson is also critical of demands from the MOL for the well regarded Workers Health and Safety Centre to comply with "a myriad of operational directives, none of which support the WHSC's ability to deliver as they have in the past."
The WSIB's perspective:
Kate Lamb, Chief of Corporate Services for the WSIB, published a rebuttal to Odolardo Di Santo's commentary on July 4th in a Toronto Star piece called "Support for Ontario's injured workers is stronger than ever." (Full article)
Ms. Lamb is "disappointed" to read Mr. Di Santo's commentary and seeks to "correct the record" by stating the following:
So what do you think about this "war of words?" Are Toronto Star writers, Mr. Di Santo, and Mr. Wilson raising reasonable alarms that should be heard? Or are they offering a distinctly pro-worker bias? Have you noticed the use of the proposed policies with your claims?
What do you think about Ms. Lamb's rebuttal? Are they on the right track to a "balanced" approach that still meets fiscal requirements? Her piece was not very specific about the current implementation of the draft policy regarding pre-existing conditions, only emphasizing that Ontario is the only province without a policy and that it is continuing to engage stakeholders about any potential policy change.
We'd love to hear from you! Share your comments below. Watch for an upcoming blog where Clear Path shares its perspective on the comments of Mr. Di Santo.
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