Why Injured Workers Should Join the Fight Against Doug Ford – Part 1

The Thunder Bay and District Injured Worker Support Group have been actively working with other organizations to express our displeasure with the current government.  Why are we raising our flag and banner at so many protests?  Why are we joining protests that do not directly affect Injured Workers?  Why is it so important that you join us?

Over the next few days, using the OFL Ford Tracker, I will print a list of the actions the Ford Government has done that will affect Injured workers.  Few of these items are directly aimed at Injured Workers and yet they are likely to negatively impact Injured Workers.  That said, this is a government that can be forced to back down.  Just today they announced that they would not, as previously suggested, privatize the WSIB.  This tells us that fighting back works!

Please checkout the list below and the one to come.  I suspect the information on these lists will make you both mad and scared so do something with that emotion and join us on a protest line.  Let’s fight back!

Cancelled all of the programs that were funded by the $2.9 billion in revenues amassed through the cap-and-trade program – including school and social housing repairs as well as rebates for green energy retrofits.

This concerns Injured Workers because:  Even though this is about the environment (very important in itself), it will have a direct effect on IWs who are living in Social Housing (and there are far too many).  Many communities spend far less money on maintaining these buildings than is required.  These cuts will delay or even cancel repairs or upgrades to apartments—upgrades that would have made life better for many IWs.   

Restricted access to free prescription drugs for Ontarians 24 and under, who currently do not have access to such benefits (i.e., a step backwards from universal pharma care)

This concerns Injured Workers because:  Although employers should be paying these costs through WSIB, we know that many IWs are not receiving these benefits.  Although this would only affect young IWs, now it will help not one IW. 

Eliminate key equity ministries, such as the Ministries Responsible for the Anti-Racism Directorate, for Poverty Reduction Strategy, for Early Years and Child Care, for the Status of Women as well as the Ministries of Citizenship and Immigration, and of Research, Innovation, and Science.

This concerns Injured Workers because: With so many IWs living in poverty a Poverty Reduction Strategy is a much needed benefit.

For some IWs, Child Care could be essential for their return to the workforce.  How does the WSIB deem that a worker must accept work at minimum wage when there is no affordable daycare?  Women, people of color, Indigenous and other minority groups often face extra barriers when trying to re-enter the workforce. (Members of these groups have long been working to eliminate or minimize those extra barriers.)

Cut a planned 3% increase to social assistance in half and scrapped the Basic Income Pilot Program.

This concerns Injured Workers because:  As we all know, a large number of IWs either have a long delay before receiving their benefits or don’t acquire benefits at all and are therefore dependent on social assistance.

The Basic Income Pilot Program could have changed the way Social Assistance is done, to the benefit of people living in poverty in Ontario and, since this was a multi-university study, the resulting report might have changed the way social assistance is done around the world.

Cut the Liberals’ promised $2.1 billion over four years for new mental health funding with $1.9 billion over 10 years (i.e., $190 million per year instead of $525 million)

This concerns Injured Workers because:  This money was promised by the previous government because Ontario citizens, and in fact Canadians, were starting to come to terms with the reality of Mental Illnesses, their frequency, causes, and effects, and the stigma associated with them.

We have studies that show if an IW has more then one injury from the workplace, almost invariably, one of them will be a Mental Health Disorder.  We are just starting to understand Mental Health and have much to learn.  These cuts will severely curtail this necessary research, resulting in delays that will undoubtedly cause hardship for many.

Intended to invoke the Notwithstanding clause and overrode the Human Rights Code to slash the number of Toronto City Council seats.

This concerns Injured Workers because: Although on the face of it, this would only affect Toronto, Doug Ford stated several times that he would not hesitate to use the Not Withstanding Clause in the Canadian Bill of Rights and Freedoms.  This means that an Injured Worker-driven complaint that goes to the Supreme Court and is upheld, could be disregarded by the Province of Ontario.  The Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group (TBDIWSG) has had standing in two Supreme Court Hearings, both of which were successful victories for Injured Workers.  If this had happened in Ontario and under Doug Ford’s Government, it is hard to see him not implementing the Notwithstanding clause and allowing the WSIB to continue their unjust practices.

Introduced Bill 47, Making Ontario Open for Business Act (e.g., scrapped the $15 minimum wage, paid sick days, equal pay for equal work, access to workplace information)

This concerns Injured Workers because:  This does far more than decrease the minimum wage. It repeals many advancements made by the Liberals.  Many employees will lose paid sick time.  The ability to obtain workplace information will also be limited. 

This legislation is determined to limit Unions.  It is well documented that unionized workplaces have a lower rate of injury than non-unionized worksites. Without Unions the TBDIWSG would not have the funds needed to operate, nor would most other Injured Worker driven organizations.  Over the years they have shared both their money, space, training and even staff with Injured Worker Groups across Ontario.  We need our friends strong.

Froze proactive workplace inspections.

This concerns Injured Workers because:  There are too many Injured Workers already in Ontario.  How many would there be without Proactive Workplace Inspections and the work orders their inspectors provide to employers?   The Government needs proactive Inspections to be increased and with more enforcement, not have them cancelled.

Passed Bill 57, Restoring Trust, Transparency, and Accountability Act (e.g., delayed the pay Transparency Act; removed independent officers of the House; cancelled a small increase in taxes for high-income earners; rolled back rent control for existing units.) [LV1] 

This concerns Injured Workers because: Rolling back rent control in some areas with low vacancy rates can cause a real problem for people on fixed incomes, like IWs.  A survey done in Toronto by Street Health found that 57 percent of homeless people were injured at work. 

Setting aside the fact that a tax increase to high income earners is being cancelled when so many people of low or middle income are being asked to sacrifice so much, the issue for Injured Workers is the combination of the Ontario Government’s determination to 1) Cut the deficit hard and fast and 2) protect the wealthy from any of it’s effects.  

Are the Conservatives just cutting programs they never supported and using the deficit to convince Ontarians of the need to implement these unpopular actions?

Introduced regressive social assistance reforms (e.g., limiting access for persons with Disabilities)

( Seriously, I go from cutting taxes to the wealthiest Canadians to cutting People with Disabilities off ODSP.  I think I need a break after this one. )

This concerns Injured Workers because:  It is strongly rumored that the government plans to change Ontario Disability Support Program qualifications, to limit the people that qualify. If the Government brings the qualifications in line with those of the Canadian Pension Plan thousands of people could find themselves no longer eligible for ODSP benefits.  It is important to note that these programs have very different goals, reflected in the fact that one is a federal government responsibility and the other is of provincial jurisdiction. 

Well folks that’s the first six months in office (and the author needs a break).  Keep your eyes out for part 2.  I am hoping to have it out in a few days. 

In the meantime, please come out and support us as we fight back against the Doug Ford Government. This government is going to cut programs and cost to everything until they get push back. ( Example: Assistance to Children with Autism, funding for Municipality,) I will try to keep an updated list of protest posted on this site.

The Complete OFL Ford Tracker can be seen at http://ofl.ca/power-of-many-ford-tracker-pc-cuts-and-privatization-to-date/

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