Weekly Update

Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups

ONIWG declared December 9th an Injured Workers Day of Action. Protest were held across Ontario 

ONIWG Research Action Committee has met with the Deputy Labour Minister and discussed WSIB’s failure to track out comes.                          

Tuesdays Together

This Tuesday was a holiday and end of year celebration.  About twenty of us got together for a light lunch including homemade soup and a lot homemade desserts.  I am sorry if you missed it, as it was truly a great time. 

The Tuesday Togethers are going to take a break over the Christmas Holiday season and will begin again on January 7th with Eugene hosting a Paint Your Pain session.  It is my understanding that painting is not actually a requirement for attendance.  Actually, now that I think about it, neither is the pain.

In the Ontario Legislature

Bill 119, An Act to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 

A private members bill 119 introduced by Wayne Gates, Niagara Falls, NDP, passed first reading and now goes to committee for review.  This is an attempt to stop deeming unless a workers refuses work in bad faith. 

Fundraising

Tickets are now available for the Labour Awards Dinner.  To get your tickets contact Janet at 472-6910 or Greg 345-7904.  The event is being held at the West Thunder Community Centre, on Friday , February 28th doors will open at six and meals will be served at 6:30   Tickets are 40.00  This is an important fundraiser for the Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group so please be generous.

Articles to check out

This is a commentary by respected Lawyer Michael Spratt, who calls out the Ford Conservatives for cutting Legal Aid Ontario’s ability to do their job.  This time they are planning on the cuts not being noticed.

https://www.cbc.ca/news/opinion/opinion-smarter-stronger-justice-act-legal-aid-1.5393810

I am going to take Christmas off. but will be back in January. However or whatever you celebrate over this Christmas – New Years week stay safe, healthy and happy. See you in new decade.

Weekly Review 2

What’s a weekly review if it’s not weekly.  Here is our second in a row.

News from the AGM

We held our 33Annual General Meeting on Monday.  The Ontario Public Service Employees Union was very generous in providing us with use of their meeting hall free of charge.  A big thank you to them. 

I have posted a copy of the President’s Report on the website, be sure to check it out.  The treasurer and Trustee reports were also presented. Jules Tupker, Janet Patterson and Greg Snider were re-elected to the board.  Eugene Lefrancois was elected as Trustee. For those who don’t know, only one third of our board positions are up for election each year, with the successful candidates serving a three-year term. There are still some openings on the board.  Should anyone be interested in stepping up, please contact Janet Paterson at 472-6910

Longtime activist for Injured Workers, Bob Larocque chose not to stay on the Board. Through the years Bob has been a huge part of the Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group.  For many years Bob and Moses Shepherd volunteered their time to successfully represent workers at the WSIB, until the Upper Canada Law Society of Ontario decided you needed to be a paralegal to represent workers.  Even after that setback he continued to support Injured Workers.  He played a significant role in locating our new office.  I hope you will pop by the office or meetings once in a while Bob, if only to share your humor and storytelling!  

BOARD EXECUTIVE

Janet Paterson (President)

Ted Bobrowski (Vice President)

Steve Mantis (Treasurer)

Jules Tupker (Secretary)

BOARD MEMBERS

Greg Snider

Lise Vaugeois

Chris Lawson

Diane Parker

Jim Littleford

Harry Sinoway

HONOURARY BOARD MEMBER

Moses Shepherd

TRUSTEE

Eugene Lefrancois

TBDIWSG’s Labour Awards Dinner

Plans have begun for the February 28th Labour Awards Dinner.  This is a fundraiser for the Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group.  Without fundraising events like this one we will not be able to keep our office or do the many things that office allows us to do.

The event is scheduled for February 28th at the West Thunder Community Centre. Doors will open at 6pm and the meal will begin at 6:30 pm.  Tickets are $40.00 each.   If you purchase a table of 8 you will receive a coupon for a bottle of wine. 

Currently we have 4 awards to present: Occupational Health and Safety Centre, Labour Council, Prevention Link and of course the TBDIWSG   

Space is limited so get your tickets now.

Contact Janet Paterson at 472-6910 or Greg Snider at 345-7904

Articles of interest from the last week

Language Barriers and the WSIB

The Ontario Auditor General takes a strip off WSIB

CN workers were recently on strike.  The main issue was workplace safety. According to Occupational Health and Safety Canada there have been ten deaths in the last 2 years.

TBDIWSG President's Report

Monday, December 9, 2019

Greetings Members of the Thunder Bay & District Injured Workers Support Group and friends,

Welcome to our Annual General Meeting this evening.  I want to thank you for your involvement and your support throughout this past year.  The challenges facing injured workers continue to grow and our voices are our only recourse.  I want to thank everyone who has served on our board this past year but also those who have committed to our cause over the past 34 years.  We continue to be a force.

Our board continues to look for ways to support the many causes that directly and indirectly affect injured workers and others who are marginalized.  There is no shortage of issues, particularly given the direction of our current government.  More and more we are seeing not only the need for political action but also the strength of everyone as they unite in solidarity to fight for basic rights.  We are also committed to supporting our various union advocates as they continue to fight for the rights of all workers.  There is no one other than the 1% who have not been negatively affected by our Ford government.

Our group continues to look for ways to let people know that we are here.  The compensation system is very complex and many don’t know where to turn following a negative decision letter regarding their injury.  Many workers who face permanent injuries isolate themselves as they struggle to keep their lives in order.  They are unaware that having someone to talk to who understands what they are going through can make a difference in their lives.  We can learn from each other.  Our weekly Tuesday group from 10 am to 12 noon offers a variety of social and learning opportunities in a supportive setting and open to everyone.

We continue our involvement with the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups.  Partnerships in research continue as they look for new opportunities to shine a light on the many practices by the WSIB and endorsed by the current government that hurt workers who have already been hurt at work.   Our group also has 2 Pro Bono Students from the Law School who are involved with research involving Canada’s accession to the Optional Protocol of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.   

We share office space with the Canadian Injured Workers Alliance and are open on Tuesday and Thursday from 10 am to 2 pm.  We offer a variety of volunteer opportunities in our office as well as 4 vacant seats on our board and ask that you talk to any of our board members if you would like to be involved in any way. 

In solidarity,

Janet Paterson    

Storyteller looking for stories

Hello folks this just came  to us through our friends at Canadian Injured Workers Alliance.  Kathy Tomlinson is a investigative reporter.   The stories of Injured Workers needs to be told but that decision is yours.

 Message from Kathy Tomlinson, Globe and Mail:

I need your help, please, if you are willing.

I am doing in-depth research for a major story and our aim is to push for positive, systemic change (some of you may have heard me talk about this when I attended the workers’ advocate session Sarah and Rolf hosted a few weeks back).

I am working hard to connect with injured workers who became addicted to painkillers, who also feel deficiencies in the WCB system contributed to their ordeals.

I also need to connect with families of injured workers – who died from unintentional or intentional overdose, or other complications from their painkiller addictions. 

If you know any family members whose loved ones ultimately died under these circumstances – workplace injury, painkiller addiction – who are willing to help, OR any injured workers struggling with this, please ask them to contact me confidentially at ktomlinson@globeandmail.com or at 604-631-6628 – or please send me their contact info.  Many thanks.

           Sarah O’Leary

           778.331.8867

           sarah@harrisonoleary.com

TBDIWSG Weekly Review – returns

I am recommitting myself to try and keep this going.  I have struggled with time and other commitments but have decide to set this up like a work day.  Please hang with me.  If you have something I should include in my weekly updates please send them to me with the subject title “For IW website”. 

Thank you

Greg Snider

Tuesday’s Time Out

Take some time out and come out to our office at 1201 Alloy Drive from 11 am to 1pm.   Time to have fun, learn and vent your frustrations with WSIB.  (Management reserves the right to limit swearing.  Furniture kicking and tossing must be pre-approved.)

This Tuesday, December 3rd, Eugene Lefrancois will be facilitating a “Paint Your Pain” session. 

Next week December 10th, we welcome Debra Shaft, a Psychiatrist, who has provided free counseling to WSIB Clients.

Annual General Meeting

Our Annual General Meeting is scheduled for December 9th at 326 Memorial Avenue.  The OPSEU Building located between Merle Mae’s and Tim Hortons.  There is a Memorial bus stop right in front of the building.   The doors will open at 6:30pm. Everyone is welcome.  There will be snack and drinks.

Awards Dinner Fundraiser

In an effort to fill our coffers and express a thank you to our Labour supporters we will be holding our first Labour Awards Dinner. We have chosen, February 28th or Reputative Strain Injury Day, for this important event.  

We have, to date, three groups presenting Awards; ourselves, the Workers Health and Safety Centre and the Thunder Bay and District Labour Council.  We have a fourth presenter in the works with hopefully more to come.  

Tickets are $40.00 and will be available December 15th.  The perfect Christmas present for the union member in your house.   

A Disability Strategy

The Centre for Work Disability Research Policy has been working on developing a strategy for the past two years with funding from the Federal Liberal Government.

In the past, Disability Groups have seldom focussed on work issues (due to employer biases and high unemployment rates for persons with Disabilities) but now more groups are looking at work and disability. The focus is on helping employers to employ people with disabilities and to help support them in their workplace.

Our own Steve Mantis is heading to Ottawa to provide assistance to this worthy project.   We know Steve will provide an important input to the final outcome.   As always, thank you for your time and commitment Steve.

Fordley’s Believe it or Not

November 18, 2019, Ontario House of Commons.  Excerpt from Hansard Transcript:

Jane McKenna: Yes, I would, Speaker. The bill I am introducing today proclaims April 28 in each year Health and Safety at Work Day. In doing so, we’ll be bringing Ontario in line with World Day for Safety and Health at Work, established by the International Labour Organization, an agency of the United Nations, established in 1919.

Yes folks that was Ford Government’s Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour.  Don’t worry It isn’t their intent to replace the International Day of Mourning.  In fact, at second reading the day has been moved to Health and Wellness week in May.  It appears to me that an injured worker walked into her office and complained about how little was being done on April 28th – the International day of Mourning – and since it would cost the government no money or time (time – like investigating facts before writing a bill), they wrote a bill. It was that or push her minister to do something meaningful.

Focus on Workers Rights and Disability

on Dec 01, 2019 01:21 pm

International Day of Persons with Disabilities, an occasion observed annually on December 3 since 1992, launches a weeklong series of events putting the focus on disability rights, inclusion and accessibility. In joining the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) in 2010 and its Optional Protocol in 2018, Canada committed to implementing measures to protect and promote the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities without discrimination, enable participation in all aspects of society and on an equal basis with others, and remove barriers to accessibility.

This past September the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups brought concerns of those with work-acquired permanent disabilities to the UN Committee reviewing Canada, arguing in their submission that through their use of deeming the provinces’ workers’ compensation systems’ violate Canada’s obligations under the CRPD [read full submission Deeming Laws and Practices as Violations of the Rights of People with Work-acquired Disabilities in Canada ]

Among IDPWD ’19 events:

Do The Rights Thing: National Human Rights Policy Forum. Dec. 3, 2019. Shaw Centre, Ottawa – an intersectional approach, looking at human rights obligations as an employer or service provider under the new Accessible Canada Act and rights under the Optional Protocol, the individual complaints mechanism
Working Together: One Voice More Choice. Dec. 7, 2019. Metro Hall Rm 308-309, Toronto 2-4 p.m. Disability and Work in Canada Conference 2019 In Ottawa Dec. 4-5 the 


Disability and Work in Canada Conference 2019 will review a revised national strategy to improve the level of employment of persons with disabilities and identify key steps in its implementation [see report Moving Forward Together]. Topics on the agenda include an update on the CRPD, school to work transition, workplace accommodation and addressing unconscious bias and stigma.

Ahead of the Conference, the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy (CRWDP) organized an Ontario meeting on the Strategy. Among recommendations proposed for further discussion:

1) Address poverty and income security among people with disabilities by making the Disability Tax Credit a refundable payment, payable monthly like the Canada Child Benefit.

2) Maintain the present definition of disability for the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP).

3) Eliminate the barriers within the Ontario Works (OW) and ODSP that create a disincentive to employment by making the integration of employment earnings with benefits more user friendly.

4) Build strong working relationships between disability organizations.

5) Support a broad based coalition on inclusive workplaces and societies.

6) Develop a robust federal system for the collection of data on health and disability and employment and income.

WSIB’s chief operating officer resigns effective Dec. 31

the following article was written by Ian Harvey.

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) chief operating officer Brian Jarvis has resigned.

Jarvis will leave the job effective Dec. 31. Jennifer Andersen, WSIB’s chief service excellence officer, has been appointed as interim chief operating officer.

Jarvis had borne the brunt of attacks from critics as he restructured the WSIB to streamline claim processing.

Critics claimed his solutions were making things worse for claimants and resulted in a massive backlog, with many claimants unable to get compensation for their work-related injuries.

WSIB CEO Tom Teahen did not reference Jarvis’s resignation at a Nov. 22 press conference when asked about the backlog.

The Toronto Star reported earlier this year that Jarvis rolled out a new model which ended the practice of a dedicated case worker and instead switched to a pool system where cases were supposed to be triaged according to their severity.

It reported that Jarvis posted on a WSIB blog that “95 per cent of claim decisions were now made in 10 days, up from 89 per cent in the summer, and 60 per cent of injured workers were back on the job within 10 days, compared to 51 per cent previously.”

However, other posters, disputed that, the Star reported, with some saying it takes up to a year for some cases.

Last September the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups went to a United Nations committee to ask for a review of the WSIB practice which saw injured workers declared employable in “phantom jobs” and cutting off their payments.

Teahen said only that the $2-billion liability on the books had been retired and that it would give the government more headroom going forward.

Critics say that change has come on the backs of injured workers.

Law firm Fink & Bornstein noted in a July newsletter that injured worker benefit claim costs by the WSIB were $4.7 billion in 2009 and administration cost $600 million. By 2018, it says, claims were just $1.8 billion and administration cost $800 million.

“Within those 10 years, the number of accidents decreased by approximately 15 per cent and wages increased approximately 22.4 per cent,” it noted.

“The financial statements of the past five years are a clarion call for the WSIB to stop its current theme of lackadaisical claims processing and move to securing injured workers functional enhancement using the financial resources it has at hand.”

The Daily Commercial News was unaware of Jarvis’s resignation which was announced last week. Teahan said only that cases are continuing to grow at the WSIB with a 33 per cent increase from 2015 to 2018.

“Cases are growing and will continue to grow,” he said.

The Star also reported earlier this year that the Ontario Compensation Employees Union poll of WSIB employees found 90 per cent of those asked reported work stress was impacting their personal lives and 92 per cent blamed it on understaffing.