Labour Leaders Address WSIB Woes

Injured worker Carol Bristow, left, Unifor Local 195 president John Toth and injured worker Shannon DeWit discuss problems with the workers compensation system at the Unifor Labour Centre in Windsor, November 15, 2017. Photo by Mark Brown/Blackburn News.

Local labour leaders are asking Queens Park to address the emotional hardship caused by the denial of workers’ compensation claims.

A petition drive has been started by the Ontario Network of Injured’ Workers Groups, a support network for those who have been injured on the job and have been battling the Workers Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for proper payments of benefits.

Organizers of the petition drive are hoping to ask the provincial government to consider three objectives: stop the process of “deeming”, which is the WSIB practice of saying an injured worker has a job which does not exist; more cooperation with doctors who treat injured workers; and stop the WSIB process of denying benefits based on pre-existing conditions.

During a press conference Wednesday at the Unifor Labour Centre in Windsor, former Chrysler employee Shannon DeWit discussed her battle with WSIB. She was seriously hurt on the job twice and had been granted benefits each time, but after being referred for an MRI, she was diagnosed with a degenerative disorder and her claim was closed.

Fighting tears, DeWit says she declared bankruptcy on her birthday and the whole process has taken an emotional as well as a financial toll.

“They finally paid up and once again, stopped paying me after five months, and that’s when I went bankrupt,” says DeWit. “They refused to pay me because of the previous claims from when I was injured at work.”

Carol Bristow suffered a job-related injury at a company she had worked at for 25 years, and she says her own WSIB battles changed her life for the worst.

“My goal was to work at my job till I retired,” says Bristow. “I didn’t ask for this… it’s not something I wanted to happen to me, but it did. Your whole world changes after that, when you get injured.”

Unifor Local 195 President John Toth says injured workers need to be treated with dignity and these practices need to be stopped.

“The system is unfair to the workers who rely upon the WSIB system to compensate them when they’ve suffered from a workplace injury,” says Toth.

The petition drive is ongoing throughout the province. For more information, click here.