Workers’ comp cuts protested in Windsor rally
Concern over planned changes to Ontario’s workers’ compensation system was the focus of a rally in downtown Windsor.
A small but vocal group of people gathered Tuesday afternoon in Charles Clark Square for a rally on the Day of Action, a province-wide movement to urge the provincial government to reconsider planned restructuring of the WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board).
The Ministry of Labour has proposed roughly $16 million in cuts to its prevention office budget, according to the Toronto Star, in a move it says will eliminate unnecessary expenses and enable it to concentrate on the more pressing and urgent claims. But those who depend on WSIB have said the cuts will only hurt injured workers, particularly since the WSIB is not funded by taxpayer money.
Liz Garant, an injured worker who helped plan the Windsor rally, said she and others in her predicament are not getting the whole story, and what they do know will not protect workers.
“They say there’s money in the budget, but a lot of people are not reporting their injuries because they’re scared,” said Garant. “They’re going to be doing online training for health and safety, instead of getting the people to go out and get training.”
WSIB cut its unfunded liability last year, which according to the Star, is the difference between projected future costs of workers’ comp benefits and the existing claims in the accident fund. This means a reduction of 30 per cent in employers’ premiums effective this year.
Garant said the proposed restructuring is another reason to be concerned.
“It’s scaring us all, like the autism, the education, all the cuts going on with Legal Aid,” said Garant. “It seems like they’re going back on the vulnerable. It’s like we’re all going to end up on ODSP [Ontario Disability Support Program] or OW [Ontario Works] or out on the streets. That’s what we all feel like.”
Similar rallies were held across Ontario Tuesday.