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.