'Employers are earning 2010 dollars and paying 1980s prices for workers’ compensation coverage.' - OPSEU.
Toronto (25 May 2010) - June 1 is Injured Workers Day. The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/NUPGE) is marking the occasion this year by reminding governments that justice - rather than the need to address poverty - is the primary reason the province's compensation system was set up in 1914.
"Workers gave up their right to sue employers for workplace injury and illness compensation in exchange for a system that was supposed to provide fair recompense to injured workers so that they could continue their lives with dignity even in the face of injury or permanent disablement," OPSEU says.
"This year’s auditor general's report once again highlights the unfunded liability of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). The report shifts the debate from the poverty of injured workers to the financial situation of the board."
Same 'old movie'
OPSEU argues that this is an "old movie" workers have seen time and again, even though the WSIB has enough resources despite liabilities to meet its commitments for the next 25 years.
"If the WSIB wants to improve its funding ratio, it should do it in a way that maintains the integrity of its system," OPSEU says. "Why not ask employers to end the assessment holiday they have enjoyed for more than 10 years?"
OPSEU notes that the amount paid by employers has dropped significantly over the years – from $3.20 for every $100 of payroll in 1996 to $2.26 per $100 today.
"Employers are earning 2010 dollars and paying 1980s prices for workers’ compensation coverage," the union says. "Their rates went down during the same time that injured workers saw virtual elimination of their cost of living allowances, disappearance of retirement income and slashes to compensation levels. It is time that injured workers stop bearing the burden of real or fake WSIB woes."
Workers need support
OPSEU says injured workers need attention and protection from the auditor general, the government, the WSIB and the public.
"If injured workers are barred from suing their employers for injury, they should not receive half measures," the union argues.
"Injured workers deserve what the compensation system promised them in 1914. Compensation should provide long-term and adequate benefits, truly safe, meaningful and sustainable work and cost of living adjustments," it adds.
"End 'deeming' – the practice where workers get categorized into a specific job – whether or not they actually acquire a job," the union argues.
"Stop paying out billions of dollars to employers in experience-rating programs that focus more on manipulating stats than on compensating injured workers," it urges.
"Join us as we pay tribute to the contribution injured workers have brought to Ontario and demand justice. Workers deserve fair compensation and dignity following workplace injury or disablement."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE