Sudbury MPP and labour critic Jamie West has joined with Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Lise Vaugeois to call out the Doug Ford Conservative government for routinely denying too many WSIB claims from people who are sick and injured.
Both West and Vaugeois are Northern Ontario New Democrats who support the concerns voiced by the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups (ONIWG) and Occupational Disease Reform Alliance (ODRA) who contend that the Ontario government persistently denies worker support.
"WSIB and the Ford government continue to deny support for workers who get cancer on account of their work," said Vaugeois.
"And people with permanent disabilities from workplace accidents also have their claims routinely denied. Instead of helping workers in need, Minister Fedeli is forcing workers to use up their savings and apply for public support so he can return massive surpluses to corporations. This is a crime," she said in a news release.
Vaugeois said the whole concept of workers' compensation was intended to be a pool of resources from businesses to support workers in their time of need. It's long overdue for this government to recognize its responsibility and right the wrongs taking place at the WSIB, she added.
She quoted a recent study that showed roughly 170 of the approximately 3,000 annual fatal occupational cancer cases in Ontario are compensated, meaning the remaining workers, their families, and Ontario taxpayers bear the costs rather than the employers of Ontario.
Ford's Conservatives are maintaining WSIB assessment rates at the lowest level in history for 2024, she said.
West said the Ford government continues to "cruelly abandon injured workers" and has left them unsupported in their elder years.
“Victims of occupational diseases face financial ruin and physical agony, all while Ford's government turns a blind eye. This government has failed to recognize its responsibility to injured workers in this province for far too long. The government has a moral obligation to these workers—it's a matter of lives, not just livelihoods," said West.
"Ford’s Conservatives must support injured workers with fair and timely compensation and end this despicable practice of routinely denying valid claims. We demand immediate and substantial changes to support these forgotten workers," he added.