TORONTO — Today marks the 38th annual Injured Workers Day and while the rally at Queen’s Park cannot be held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, injured workers in the province are still coming together to voice their concerns.
They are united in their message about the devastating impacts of the pandemic on workers and demanding immediate changes to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) system and labour laws in Ontario.
A coalition of injured workers has drafted a letter to the Government of Ontario, which will also be posted on the office doors of MPPs in various municipalities across the province. A rally organized by the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG) is also being held online. The theme is #InjuredWorkersWontBeForgotten.
Injured workers are calling for universal coverage in the workers’ compensation system in Ontario, along with automatic coverage for anyone who gets sick or injured as a result of COVID-19, including undocumented and migrant workers, states a release.
A Workers Comp is a Right Campaign, which was launched in 2017, called for an end to unfair deeming practices in which injured workers’ loss of earnings benefits are reduced based on jobs that do not actually exist; the elimination of denying benefits based on pre-existing conditions; and demanding that WSIB listen to injured workers’ treating health care professionals’ recommendations.
According to the release, the government “has taken no action to address any of these harmful practices that WSIB has been using to benefit employer’s profits while destroying the lives of workers who have suffered permanent injuries and illnesses on the job.”
“Why is our government more worried about employers instead of workers who have lost their health and livelihoods so that employers can make more profits?” asked Janet Paterson, president of the ONIWG, in a statement. “The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated existing systemic issues that consistently place workers at risk of injury and death, and then leave them behind once they are injured at work. We refuse to return to business as usual following this pandemic, and this year, we are letting the government know that injured workers will no longer be forgotten.”