Ontario Network of Injured Workrer Groups (ONIWG) – Taking it to the court

Legal Challenges Outline

The ONIWG Legal Defense Fund (LDF) was set up to enable ONIWG to bring a legal challenge to actions of the WSIB that are driving injured workers onto social assistance and into poverty, creating physical and psychological harm on top of the workplace injury.

ONIWG has a history of participation in legal challenges at the highest level. The most memorable example is the intervention in the Supreme Court of Canada case on chronic pain (Martin and Laseur). A team of legal experts from the community legal clinics presented the legal case without charge. Donations from the labour movement and the public brought dozens of injured workers to the Ottawa courtroom to hear the case argued.

We won. The Supreme Court of Canada condemned the attempt by the Nova Scotia WCB to limit compensation for people who develop chronic pain from a workplace injury.

ONIWG will continue to fight for the legal rights of injured workers. There are several teams of legal volunteers looking into possible legal challenges. The LDF is not supporting any particular legal case at this time.

There is a group looking at the issue of fiduciary duty. Does the WSIB have a special responsibility to provide fair compensation for injured workers because the historic compromise has taken away their right to sue? This area of law is often applied in cases involving federal government institutions and aboriginal people that lost their land in exchange for a reserve.

Another team is looking at institutional bias. Has the WSIB abandoned its legal mandate towards injured workers? Do the actions of the WSIB indicate a bias in favour of cutting expenses to the extent that it is not applying the governing legislation?

A third group is looking at our provincial human rights laws.  Do the practices of the WSIB discriminate against injured workers contrary to the Ontario Human Rights Code? Yes they do. This group has just had a major victory when the Ontario Human Rights Commission intervened and the WSIB withdrew its notorious document “Red Flags … potential indicators of wrong doing/fraud in a claim.” The list included things like psychological problems, language barriers and pre-existing medical problems.

A fourth group is looking at whether WSIB practices are consistent with the basic human rights standards under international law. The group is looking at whether the human rights that Canada has agreed to provide to all of its people under international law are being respected by Ontario’s workers’ compensation system.

Legal challenges take a long time to develop and even with volunteer lawyers the other costs are high. To meet this challenge, ONIWG has begun to raise funds through a crowdfunding campaign. http://justice4injuredworkers.causevox.com/ We need your help.

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