Platform for Change – Universal Coverage

by Greg Snider  with thanks to Steve Mantis for editing

It may come as a shock to many people that WSIB coverage is not universal. In Ontario close to 30% of workers are not protected under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.  If you have been reading the past articles in this series you may be asking yourself “is that really a problem”.   The answer to that is that it matters a great deal.  Many workers not covered by WSIB will be receiving no coverage what so ever or be covered under an insurance company, with all the restrictions profit line can create.

Although Ontario isn’t the only Province/Territory coming up short of the Universal Coverage problem it is the worst in Canada with just over 70% being covered. The Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada reported that Ontario’s coverage in 2013 was only at 71% (The Arthurs Report set it at 70%).  The same report showed that seven Provinces/Terrritories had more then 90% of their workers covered by their compensation board, including our neighbour to the east, Quebec.  Even Conservative Alberta had over 85% of workers covered.

The Workers Compensation Act set out through regulation who was covered under Workers Compensation in Ontario and which workers were not.  Unlike most other provinces, Ontario regulations are structured that only named occupations/industries are required to be covered.   This means any new or emerging industries and their workers will not be covered until the government changes the regulations.

Many occupations are not even mention in the Act. Mostly because they didn’t exist at the time the Act was passed.  These workplaces may receive WSIB coverage, public Coverage or no coverage at all, completely at the discretion of the employer.  Nor has new medical knowledge about the cause of medical conditions such as PTSD, RSI, etc. given reason to reconsider those workers entitled to Compensation.

We recommend that coverage be mandatory for all workers and employers and if certain jobs are not appropriate for inclusion (such as professional athletes), they can be excluded by regulation.

The Northwest Territories have 100% of employers covered by workers Compensation.  Quebec a province who’s industry is closets to Ontario’s has over 90% of their workers covered.  There is no reason Ontario can not have all workers covered under Workers C

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