The Politics of compensation
Injury and illness due to work is not a new issue. Since the late 1800's workers have organized to put pressure on their employers, their communities, compensation boards, and government to improve working conditions.
Workers' compensation laws were passed to protect the injured. As recommended by Sir William Meredith in his 1913 Royal Commission report, in Ontario's system worker and employer would benefit from a no-fault compensation system in which workers, in exchange for guaranteed compensation, gave up the right to sue ("the historic compromise").
Ontario's Workers' Compensation Act was based on this balanced approach and philosophy of fairness, and once upon a time the Board's own logo acknowledged its role was "to promote justice, humanely and speedily rendered."
Since the 1960s workers' compensation has become one of the most political subjects in Ontario. All three political parties have made significant changes to workers' compensation, including Bill 99 (1998) which fundamentally altered the direction and principles of the program. "The Politics of Workers' Compensation" (IWHP bulletin 10) outlines the political pressures that are eating away at the moral, social and economic bases of our system.
The injured worker community and its allies have been active in working for positive changes that help injured workers. Together we seek to identify major injustices, document them, educate the public and politicians about them and propose alternatives. In doing so, we also fight against myth, stereotypes and stigma to restore dignity as well as the income security owed injured workers.
We now face a new barrage of proposed policy changes that threaten benefits, workers' rights and past gains made. The number of proposals and short timelines for public consultation place troubling restrictions on feedback. However once again, injured workers will speak out strongly to keep our workers compensation a public system that balances fairly the interests of injured workers, employers and Ontario society as a whole.
- Check Issues and Campaigns for updates and to add your voice
- See what your MPPs are saying and doing at Queen's Park (click here)
See also ...
- Legislative Assembly's WSIB Review (Jul. 4-5, 2012) - injured workers and advocates detail how workers compensation policy changes are cutting benefits and rights [read here]
- Presentation by Terence G. Ison, Professor Emeritus of Osgoode Hall Law School, on current problems in the workers compensation system, their legal history and proposals for change [Nov. 26, 2010, Toronto] [pdf]