Worker Killed in Fredrickton, New Brunswick

The following story was printed by CBC News Posted: Jun 28, 2016 11:09 AM AT Last Updated: Jun 28, 2016 5:28 PM AT

I would request that people note the highlighted quote from Marcel LeBlalnc.  He speaks clearly an alternate truth.  An alternate truth spoken by to many employers and employees resulting in to many workplace injuries and deaths.  Work isn’t safe.  Workers and Employers make it safe. ………or not   Thank you Mr. LeBlanc for pointing out how easy it is to stray from the attitude we need at work.  – Greg Snider

A Port of Dalhousie employee was killed Monday at Great Northern Timber’s shipping facility at the port when a loader he was driving on a pile of wood chips tipped over. Continue reading

Another Win for Injured Workers

Some good news from our friends at IAVGO.  By working together with our friends and allies, we are making some progress.  While there is more to do, let’s celebrate this victory!!  – Steve Mantis, Treasurer, Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group.

 

Hi Everyone,

The WSIB’s FOI department sent us a letter today letting us know that they are making their drug formularies public and searchable. Continue reading

Submission To Charles Sousa Minister of Finance

The Following was Submitted to Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa when he was in Thunder Bay on December 9th to hear Budget Submission.

 

The TBDIWSG has heard the Minister of Finance expressed a request for specific interest.  The TBDIWSG will be focusing most of our submission on ways to grow the economy.  In order to understand our submission, you will have to understand two truths.  The first truth is that although we believe that the economy exists to serve the people, we also believe that a worker who is working is better for the economy then one who is not.  The second truth may be the hardest to believe but, contrary to the stigma regarding injured workers concerning their lack of desire to work, the truth is that injured workers want to get back to permanent and meaningful jobs.  Unfortunately, for both these workers and all of us who benefit from a healthy economy, the WSIB has created many barriers to a worker’s recovery.   Many of these barriers also have a negative effect for the employers and the economy. Continue reading

Doctors feel sidelined by WSIB; ‘Opaque and confusing’ system frustrates physicians, report finds

This story appeared in the Toronto Star on January 9th. 

written by Sara Mojtehedzadeh.  Sara has been a determined truth teller when it comes to Injured Workers in Ontario and Canada.  All her articles are well worth reading.  At a time when the press is under attack.  I want to take a moment to thank Sara for her dedication to tell the little persons story…. and the Toronto Star for publishing the articles she writes

They are the first port of call for workers hurt on the job. But when decisions are made about accident victims with complex injuries, a new study suggests doctors feel sidelined by workers’ compensation boards. The report, conducted by the independent, Toronto-based Institute for Work and Health (IWH), examined the role of doctors and other health-care professionals in workers’ compensation across four provinces, including Ontario. It found doctors treating workers with complicated or prolonged conditions were frustrated by an “opaque and confusing” system where their views on a safe return to work after an accident appeared to sometimes be ignored by case managers with no medical training.

 It quickly became clear that there was a significant amount of disagreement and confusion about what the role of health-care providers should be in the return-to-work process and in the workers’ compensation system more generally,” the report concluded.

 Agnieszka Kosny, a scientist with the IWH who led the study, said doctors rarely reported encountering significant problems when their patients had visible, acute physical injuries. But that changed when workers had multiple injuries, chronic pain and mental-health conditions.

 In those cases, health-care professionals expressed concern that compensation boards’ return-to-work programs “might not be appropriate and could do more harm than good” and were sometimes motivated by “cost-containment” rather than the best interests of patients.

 “Sometimes where things go off the rail is when a decision is made, and the health-care provider feels like they have been excluded from that process. I think that further alienates them from the process,” Kosny said.

 In a statement to the Star, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) spokesperson Christine Arnott said the board “values its relationships with health-care providers” and said the study “confirms the importance” of its return-to-work programs.

 “There are valuable findings in the report with respect to improving engagement with health-care providers,” Arnott said. Board staff will meet with the report authors to discuss the study this month, she said.

 Critics say the findings bolster a formal complaint made to Ontario’s ombudsman a year ago by labour groups, doctors and injured-worker advocates asking the watchdog to investigate the WSIB for ignoring medical opinions provided by physicians treating workers, resulting in accident victims being unfairly cut off benefits or pushed back to work too early.

 “This is not something that’s new. It’s something that we have brought to the attention of the government as well as the compensation board,” said Karl Crevar, who has been an activist in Ontario for more than two decades, ever since he hurt his back on the job in 1987.

 “This is another piece of evidence to say there is a systemic problem,” added Aidan Macdonald of the Toronto-based legal clinic Injured Worker Consultants.

 “Somebody needs to take it seriously and somebody needs to do something about it.”

The ombudsman has yet to make a decision on whether it will launch a probe.

In a statement to the Star, the ombudsman said its assessment of the issue was “ongoing” and that it was “monitoring ongoing dialogue” between the WSIB and complainants.

The latest IWH study is based on interviews with close to a hundred doctors in British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Newfoundland and Labrador. Researchers also interviewed 34 compensation case managers, although the WSIB declined to participate in the study because it was “in midst of changes to its service delivery model,” according to the board. Researchers spoke to case managers employed by private companies to deal with WSIB claims instead.

Doctors in the study expressed dissatisfaction with dealing with case managers with “limited medical knowledge.” One Ontario health-care provider described treating an injured worker with a neck, or cervical spine, injury whose benefits were almost denied because of confusion over basic anatomy.

“For some reason, (the WSIB) had requested records, and there was something in the patient’s chart about cervical dysplasia, like of your cervix, the female genital organ. They said she wasn’t covered because she had a pre-existing condition, which is completely ridiculous,” the doctor said.

Compensation case managers told researchers they often had difficulty getting information from health-care providers treating injured workers, resulting in a “heavy reliance” on the advice of so-called independent medical consultants who review workers’ medical files, but often never meet the patient.

The report found a number of doctors treating injured workers were concerned such consultants “were not independent” and that their medical opinions were “problematic.”

 “Some health-care providers believed that case managers may cherry pick opinions offered by internal consultants, choosing those that were favourable to the workers’ compensation board (for example, ones that reduced costs),” the study said.

Kosny said she saw a role for independent medical consultants in the compensation system, especially if injured workers did not have a regular doctor or were seen by emergency room staff. But she said provinces such as Ontario could consider adopting a system like Manitoba’s, where such consultants actually examine patients in person.

 She said family doctors offered valuable assessments of accident victims because they had better overall knowledge of their health, adding that treating physicians needed more support from compensation boards to play an active role in decisions about benefits and return-to-work programs.

 “There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of resources that are specifically directed at health-care providers,” she said.

In the meantime, Crevar said, workers are falling through the cracks.

“We have injured workers in dire straights, on the verge of family breakdown or even committing suicide because they don’t know what to do,” he said. “And we are seeing more and more of that throughout the province.”

 

Lethal legacy

This Article was printed in the Toronto Star December 17th.  This article contains numinous videos that are well worth listening to.  But you will have to visit the original article at the Toronto Star website. http://www.thestar.com and then search Lethal Legacy.  then scroll to the Dec 17th article

General Electric’s Peterborough plant was a symbol of opportunity for generations of workers — but did it also make them sick?

By Sara Mojtehedzadeh Work and Wealth Reporter

Photographs by Melissa Renwick

December 17, 2016 Continue reading

TBDIWSG makes a submission to the Pre-Budget Hearings

On December 9th, TBDIWSG President Greg Snider, presented Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa.  This year we tried to emphasis how WSIB’s punitive actions against Injured Workers has hurt the economy.   What follows below is that report. A special  thank you to Janet Paterson and Greg Snider for their work on this presentation.

The TBDIWSG has heard the Minister of Finance expressed a request for specific interest.  The TBDIWSG will be focusing most of our submission on ways to grow the economy.  In order to understand our submission, you will have to understand two truths.  The first truth is that although we believe that the economy exists to serve the people, we also believe that a worker who is working is better for the economy then one who is not.  The second truth may be the hardest to believe but, contrary to the stigma regarding injured workers concerning their lack of desire to work, the truth is that injured workers want to get back to permanent and meaningful jobs.  Unfortunately, for both these workers and all of us who benefit from a healthy economy, the WSIB has created many barriers to a worker’s recovery.   Many of these barriers also have a negative effect for the employers and the economy. Continue reading

Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups Holds Province Wide Protest

Our workers’ compensation system is being torn down by an austerity agenda that cuts benefits to workers while rewarding employers. It is acting as a cruel insurance scheme, caring only about reducing its unfunded liability and employer premiums; while pushing us out into the cold to fend for ourselves and our families.

Tom Teahen, the President of WSIB states that at the heart of the WSIB mission is to provide security for Ontario’s workers. Yet they ignore the growing outcry from injured workers, doctors and advocates about the systemic injustices we face. Instead, their attention lays on seeking ways to unfairly cut compensation to injured workers.  But as they keep cutting back on benefits and legislative promises, we only grow stronger in our fight back against austerity and poverty. Our numbers grow as we are joined by doctors, health professionals, legal professionals, and organised labour against a cold and calculating system.

Together, we have strength and we have power. So join the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups (ONIWG) on Monday December 12th at 11am outside the WSIB, as we raise our voices to demand justice for injured workers!

Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group will be protesting outside Minister Michael Gravelle`s Office, 179 Algoma Street South,on Monday, December 12 from noon to 1:00 pm.  Every one is welcome.

WSIB mulls reform to rules that deny compensation to some mentally ill workers

Critics say Workplace Safety and Insurance Board has power to enact change immediately.

This is a Toronto Star article by Sara Moitehedzadeh printed November 25th

The province’s worker compensation board says it is discussing ways to reform current laws that prevent injured workers with chronic mental stress from receiving benefits, but says it cannot reverse its policy of denying compensation without legislative change.

 In a letter to the Star, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) executive Brian Jarvis said the organization “has been in discussion with the Ministry of Labour on possible options” for its policy on compensation for workers struggling with mental health issues because of prolonged workplace trauma.

 Currently, such workers are not entitled to benefits.

 “The WSIB has a long history of adjudicating claims for workers with mental illness and takes this responsibility very seriously,” reads the letter from Jarvis, who is the board’s chief operating officer.

 “We have specialized teams of case managers and nurse consultants dedicated to managing mental stress claims in a timely and compassionate manner,” Jarvis said.

 

In a statement, the WSIB said it could not provide further details on its discussions with the ministry, but said they were “expected to continue.”

 “Should the government introduce and pass amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, the WSIB will revise its policies to align with those changes.

 “In the meantime, the WSIB is required to evaluate each claim based on the current policies and legislation,” Jarvis said.

 But Ron Ellis, a respected legal expert who served as chair of the board’s own independent appeals tribunal for 10 years, called that position misleading.

 As first reported by the Star, Ellis – along with a coalition of Toronto-based legal clinics and lawyers – has asked the provincial government watchdog to investigate the WSIB over what it called systematic discrimination against workers with chronic mental stress.

The complaint has also been submitted to the Ontario Human Rights Commission.

 “The absurdity of the situation and the grim consequences for workers warrant your office’s urgent attention,” the ombudsman complaint said.

 Under Ontario law, the board must compensate mental stress injuries resulting from “an acute reaction to a sudden and unexpected traumatic event at work,” for example witnessing a death on the job.

 But workers who develop psychological conditions from prolonged workplace trauma, such as ongoing bullying, are not entitled to benefits unless they are first responders.

 Two years ago, a nurse who endured a decade of harassment by her supervisor – resulting in anxiety and depression – successfully challenged the WSIB’s refusal to award her benefits.

 According to the board’s independent tribunal, her constitutional right to equality was violated by the decision to deny compensation, which the board was forced to overturn. Two subsequent rulings on separate appeals in 2015 and 2016 reached the same conclusion.

 But Jarvis said the tribunal “does not have the power to strike down legislation, so the relevant provisions remain in effect and are the current law in Ontario.”

 He said the board was required to continue to apply the law until it was amended by government.

 Ellis said the board’s statement was “not true.”

 In a 2003 workers’ compensation case, Ellis notes, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that any government agency with the ability to determine questions of law can also decide on the constitutionality of the legislation guiding its overall operations.

Government agencies are not obliged to apply laws found to be unconstitutional.

 In a statement to the Star, the board acknowledged it had the jurisdiction to “consider the Charter in appropriate cases” but said it made decisions “on a case-by-case basis.”

 That still leaves “large numbers of mentally ill workers to many years of living without the benefits to which they are entitled, for reasons the board knows will not withstand scrutiny on appeal,” Ellis explained.

 “The board is ignoring both its legal obligations and its duties arising from its role as the steward of the workers’ compensation system,” he added. “Turning a blind eye is not a lawful option. Neither is it a respectable one.”

 

D.O.M.’s Rocque Strong Leader

The Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group would like to issue a very, very large thank you Bob Larocque for his many years of hard work in making the Thunder Bay Day of Mourning Ceremony the best such event in Ontario.

He has taken Thunder Bay’s Day of Mourning Ceremony from a small gathering, of injured workers and union activists, beside the Injured Workers Monument to an event that attracted the attention of the Premier of Ontario.  This is almost exclusively because of the work and organizational skills of Bob Larouque.

Bob has announced that this will be his last year on the Day of Mourning Planning Committee  (It should be noted that I haven’t began my extensive lobbying of Bob to change his mind.).  As a member of that Committee for several years now, I know how valuable his tireless work, organizational skills and knowledge was to the event. Although I know the event will continue to be a success without him, I can’t say I know how that will happen.

Again thank you Bob Larocque for everything you have done.

I would encourage everyone to attend the Moses Sheppard Scholarship FundraisingDinner to be held on November 27th at the Slovak Legion.  This is another amazing event put on by Bob Larocque.