WSIB Relies on Expert Health Care Professionals to Support Injured Worker Recovery

TORONTO, Nov. 5, 2015 /CNW/ - The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) has announced that it will release a report alleging that the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) ignores opinions and recommendations from some health care providers. Unfortunately, the OFL report was not shared or discussed with the WSIB in advance, but we would be happy to review any files that they would like to bring to our attention.

The WSIB values the relationships it has with thousands of health care practitioners across the province and relies on their professionalism and expertise. Our commitment to quality health care programs and services has been fundamental in helping workers achieve early, safe and sustainable recovery and return to work.

Two significant scientific studies released earlier this year show that the system is working on behalf of injured workers. Work Injury and Poverty by the Institute for Work and Health (IWH) found "workers' compensation benefits were an important part of the earnings that kept them (injured workers) out of poverty." Another study by the IWH on benefit adequacy compared the earnings and benefits of a large group of injured workers with permanent impairments to the earnings of a comparable group of non-injured workers over a 10 year period. The study found that the average earnings replacement rate for injured workers was 105 per cent of the non-injured worker group.  Essentially the study found that injured workers did better financially than the comparison group of non-injured workers.

The WSIB registers over 200,000 claims each year and we take our responsibility to injured workers very seriously. When an injury occurs or an illness is diagnosed, the WSIB acts quickly to ensure workers receive timely, specialized medical care. The WSIB has expanded its province-wide network of expert specialized medical assessment and treatment services for Ontario workers. A worker injured on the job receives medical care that is significantly beyond what Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP) would cover for someone not injured at work.

In managing a claim, the WSIB may refer a case for an external expert medical review to assist our staff in understanding the available medical information, diagnosis and treatment plan. Where an independent medical consultant reviews the claim file, a phone discussion with the worker's treating physician often occurs to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the medical findings and recommendations by the worker's health professionals. The WSIB has quality assurance programs to ensure the efficacy and quality of these services.

There are significant safeguards in the system and stringent checks and balances. For any injured worker who wishes to have a WSIB decision reconsidered, a two level appeals process exists, which includes the independent Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT). Workers also have access to the Office of the Worker Adviser, an independent service offered by the Province. Identifying systemic issues is the mandate of the independent Fair Practices Commission (FPC).

Annually, we make well over one million decisions relating to new and ongoing entitlement to benefits. Today, 92 per cent of injured workers are back at work within one year of their injury at full wages. Fewer than 2 per cent of claims are appealed, and in 2015, we have received the fewest number of appeals since 1989. 

SOURCE Workplace Safety & Insurance Board

For further information: Christine Arnott, WSIB Public Affairs, (416) 344-4202, christine_arnott@wsib.on.ca

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http://www.wsib.on.ca

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