Employers, Not Taxpayers Should Pay for Injured Workers

OFL MESSAGE TO MCGUINTY:

 (TORONTO) – The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) marked June 1st as Injured Worker’s Day by hosting a media conference and joining a rally at the Queen’s Park legislature to draw attention to the struggles of the thousands of injured workers who are unfairly excluded from Ontario’s workers’ compensation coverage.

 “Workers in unprotected sectors are often left with no option for compensation outside of a costly legal battle with employers who have the resources to fight back,” said OFL President Sid Ryan. “These workers, who are too often women, are left to rely on taxpayer support through social assistance and the provincial health care system, instead of the employer who injured them.”

Twenty-eight percent of Ontario’s employers are currently being allowed to get away without paying into Ontario’s workplace health and safety prevention and enforcement systems. This leaves an estimated 38 percent of Ontario’s workers without Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) coverage.

“It is shameful that so many injured workers are being driving into poverty and hardship because there is no government protection for them,” said Maryam Nazemi, an Early Childhood Educator who was injured on the job in 2004 and was ineligible for workers’ compensation benefits. “Too many employers are able to cut corners and put workers at risk. They don’t pay into the government’s inspection system and they certainly don’t offer support to workers when we get hurt. They think that when we are no longer useful, they can throw us away.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour is calling on the McGuinty government to:
–       Put and end to the poverty facing injured workers;
–       Extend mandatory WSIB coverage for all workers, in all sectors;
–       Restore injured workers benefits to the full cost of living;
–       Eliminate experience rating;
–       Eliminate “deeming” and practices that limit injured workers’ post-injury benefits.

“It is time for the McGuinty government to stop sweeping injured workers under the rug,” said Ryan. “Every worker deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”

The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 Ontario unions and over one million members.

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