Oct 25, 2013: Mike Spencer and struggles on WSIB

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Click Image for more info on OPIRG Windsor

Listen to entire program here:

Ever been injured at work? Think if you are you’ll be looked after and made whole? Many injured workers in Ontario are living another reality after being injured and then entering the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board – WSIB – system.

According to a website for Ontario injured workers, the “compensation system is meant to protect workers, their families, and the broader public against both the harm and the costs of work-related injuries. This system was created to provide injured workers with prompt and secure benefits that compensate them for as long as they are disabled. Workers’ compensation is supposed to be no-fault, prompt, and non-adversarial. Perhaps most importantly, the workers’ compensation system was designed to ensure that employers collectively pay the costs of workplace injuries, instead of foisting those costs on injured workers, their families, and the rest of us.

If unchecked, recent initiatives by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, will spell the end of workers’ compensation as we have known it. The Board’s management, with the full support of the provincial government, have instituted changes that will limit workers’ entitlement to benefits to a short period after the injury. Instead of a system that compensates workers for injuries, we will be left with system where most workers’ claims are denied and the few workers whose claims are accepted will be forced either back to work or into poverty.”

With me was local activist Mike Spence, himself an injured worker, and we had a discussion on the reality of life for injured workers in the WSIB system:

4 thoughts on “Oct 25, 2013: Mike Spencer and struggles on WSIB

  1. On August 30, 1979, I was thrown from, dragged, and crushed, by three rail cars. Company negligence caused the derailment that hurt 6 men. I am still standing. Barely. Since then I have been subjected to the most horrendous neglect and tortured by it. I was shattered from head to toe. Suffering a brain injury and moderate to severe Chronic Pain ever since. Pain so severe I nearly died of a stroke. Crippled so bad I cannot walk or stand for very long. Partially paralyzed on the right side of my back, frozen shoulder, twisted spine, herniated disks, crushed ankle, and if I walk or stand too long will develop blood clots. I was not told this and nearly died of blood clots. I was put back to work totally disabled from employment then slandered when I quit to see my doctor. For 34 years now I have lived in the utmost fear, depression, anxiety, and anger, at having my whole life stolen from me. I have nothing, exist with the charity of food banks and friends. A little over a year ago WSIB cut off my pension. I think because they say I am dead. Every crime has been committed against me, every insurance fraud, including fraud on the Supreme Court of Canada for disobeying a court order to treat patients in pain. The WSIB is killing its patients because of this neglect. I am one of its many victims. We only have government to blame for this mess they have created. The WSIB operates with a “get out of jail free” card. Two actually. If any Canadian accepts workers compensation insurance in this country, they are automatically classed as an “injured worker” and excluded from the Canada Health Act. You are then left at the mercy of a criminal insurance company who will cut off the most serious claims and leave the person in pain and poverty and stress. To make matters worse (can it get worse than having a criminal insurance company control your medical care and financial benefits?) you also lose your legal rights. Oh yes you heard that right. You have no legal rights. Each Workers Compensation Act in each Province removes an injured workers legal rights. Maybe it is time healthy Canadians ask why is this removal of rights taking place? I never gave up my rights. Did you? It appears to me the WSIB, and other Workers Compensation Boards, are using these Acts to commit every crime imaginable, including cutting off the most seriously injured and disabled citizens. Crimes for money. Leaving the injured workers and their families in absolute misery having to beg off family and friends to survive. And pain so severe they can’t even sleep. A life, a family, ruined by deceit, fraud, slander, theft, neglect, and discrimination. We need a National dialogue on the issue of workers compensation in this country. Too many are suffering needlessly by being denied medical care. Too many losing all they worked hard for. Too many committing suicide or dying from the stresses of being denied medical care and being forced into poverty. Wake up Canada. For our children’s sake, our families, friends and neighbours. For all of us.

  2. Workers discouraged from filing WCB claims: labour group
    Manitoba Federation of Labour calls for higher fines for suppression of injury claims
    CBC News Posted: Oct 08, 2013 10:31 AM CT Last Updated: Oct 08, 2013 5:28 PM CT

    Workers discouraged from filing WCB claims, says labour group 1:54







    External Links

    Manitoba Federation of Labour: More about the 2013 Workplace Health and Safety Report Card
    Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba
    (Note: CBC does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of external links.)
    The Manitoba Federation of Labour is giving the provincial Workers Compensation Board a failing grade when it comes to helping injured workers, saying employers are abusing the system by discouraging workers from filing claims.

    The federation’s latest workplace safety report card says employers continue to abuse Manitoba’s workers’ compensation system by telling employees to stay quiet and return to work while hurt.

    That’s because companies with low rates of reported injuries are rewarded with lower workers’ compensation premiums, federation president Kevin Rebeck said Tuesday.

    “People are intimidated or people feel pressure from their co-workers not to report an injury so that their workplace looks good,” Rebeck told reporters in Winnipeg.

    “Claims suppression’s already illegal, and we need the WCB to enforce the law and to change the incentives that encourage this illegal behaviour in the first place.”

    ‘I just kept going to work,’ says employee

    Tim Cashion of Winnipeg suffered severe burns to his foot while he worked at a chemical company two years ago, but he said he didn’t file a workplace injury claim because he did not want to upset his bosses or colleagues.

    “I just kept going to work,” he told CBC News.

    Cashion said workers at the company were rewarded for toughing it out.

    “There’s sort of a culture of just not reporting and having little parties and doing little giveaways for a year of no lost time, or two years of no lost time,” he said.

    “I wouldn’t have thought that things like a steak or a jacket would actually make people think twice about reporting claims, but they do.”

    No employers fined in 7 years

    The labour federation obtained statistics through the province’s freedom of information law that show no employers have been fined in the last seven years for suppressing an injury claim.

    That’s despite an independent report done for the NDP government earlier this year that confirmed suppression is occurring.

    The report also recommended a sharp increase to the $450 fine levied against offending employers.

    The NDP government has promised to act on the report and has said a new strategy will come this fall that will target claim suppression.

    Rebeck also called for other changes, including a revamped assessment system.

    Instead of basing premiums on the rate of reported injuries, the rates should be based partly on how much companies invest in safety initiatives, he said.

    “We’ve been advocating and proposing for some time that a lot more weight be given to actual prevention programs that make workplaces safer,” Rebeck said.

    Board focusing on education

    The Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba says it is stepping up efforts to encourage employees to come forward and file injury claims.

    Board spokesperson Warren Preece told CBC News that officials been dealing with complaints of claims suppression by educating employers and workers.

    “We go out and respond every time that we hear a complaint, and we go to the workplace and we try and educate the workforce and the employers about the responsibilities around reporting and the rights workers have if they’re injured at work,” he said.

    Labour Minister Jennifer Howard has been working with employers, labour groups and the Workers Compensation Board to address the issue, according to a provincial government spokesperson.

    Howard will release a strategy later this fall “to stamp out claim suppression practices in Manitoba,” the spokesperson stated in an email.

    The labour federation gave the compensation board an F grade in stopping claims suppression and a D in percentage of workers covered. It gave the board an overall grade of C.

    With files from The Canadian Press

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