Day of Mourning Speech – Eugene Lefrancois, Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups

Injured Workers of Ontario are wondering why there are so many injuries and fatalities in the workplace.  Is it not the goal and employer’s responsibility to treat their workers fairly and safely?  I know that employers need to make profit but at what cost?  If the cost of making profit is the loss of body or some parts of an Injured Worker then the price is too high

When did WSIB place more emphasis on the savings of money for the employer than at the expense of the healing and rehabilitating the injured?

With 4 Billion dollars in Revenue why are injured workers being denied benefits that once were in place?  Did the human body suddenly find a way to heal itself after a workplace injury?   Has the value of an injured worker been deemed unworthy of help? Why fix the broken when there are so many unbroken workers.

Smoking was everywhere, and in everything and in everyplace.  This was considered acceptable and normal.  When was the actual date that smoking became a pariah of society?  Today smoking is near non-existent where the people of Ontario works shops, plays and learns.  Why is not the same emphasis placed on workers of Ontario?

Drinking and driving. Once, this was accepted by society.  If you were stopped, usually the police would tell you to drive carefully or in extreme cases call you a cab.  Try doing that today.  These are good things that came out of a lot of tragedy. Why not use the same methods to save the lives of Workers in Ontario.

If it is the way of the future, then do nothing, continue to grieve for the injured and the dead.  I for one find this totally horrific.  Why do I as a parent have to offer one of my children to an employer who may or may not value them?   What is my recourse?  Do I wait for the government of the day to do something when they have known what the problem is?  Are our children being used to make profit for business without business taking care of their well-being?

Since 1984, WCB now the WSIB has had an Experience Rating program. This program was designed to benefit Employers who actively made Health and Safety a part of their workplace. In theory this may have worked.  Somehow it morphed into a very Adversarial Claim Suppressing, Intimidating kind of Insurance Compensation system.  We now have employers who are appealing decisions of the WSIB not giving them a rebate because a worker died in their workplace.  Employers are appealing claims that happen in their workplaces.  Why are the workers always the blame?  Money has no feelings it does not care how much blood was spilled to get it. People have to care more.

I for one am having a hard time to understand where this type of an Experience Rating scheme is being held up by the Government of the day?   Why should any employer receive a rebate because there is no accident cost to them, when they report to the WSIB?  When employers coerce their employees by intimidating them not to file a claim this is suppressing a hard won right in the workplace.

The Ministry of Labour has increased the fines to companies for Injured Worker Claim Suppression.  This is a good start, but it needs more.  We need to get rid of experience rating once and for all.  Why does the WSIB want the Injured Worker and the Employer to be at odds?  Who are the people that condone this?  What level of government does this come from?  Injured Workers don’t make the rules. Are the employers now writing policy for the government?

Who benefits from a social program like Workers Compensation?  Was this system supposed to be like private insurance?   WSIB hired someone to turn it on its head, make draconian policy changes, and it is supposed to instantly becomes a Workers Safety Insurance Board, a for profit insurance scheme.   Who in government came up with this scheme?  Is this part of the plan for business to be fair to its workers?   Please, workers do not need this.  With all the other things that a worker goes through in a day, workers need to be safe and if for some reason have an accident workers don’t need to be told by their government that there service is no longer needed  and you now are to find other financial supports.

Like smoking in the mall, providing real Safety in the workplace can be done.  Evidence has shown us that smoking is not good for your body.  Well accidents in the workplace are not good for your body also.  When was the last time you went into a hospital, or a Mall and seen people smoking?  When was the last time you seen the police let a drunk driver continue driving.

If there is an accident and the worker survives at least get him or her to as close to pre-accident shape as possible.  Don’t give up on the worker just because a certain procedure costs money.  The worker must get back to pre-accident wages regardless of the money it costs.  If the employer needs labour to make money then the employer has to be responsible.

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