Injured workers 20 per cent behind in compensation; Province needs to act before more fall into poverty

    TORONTO, Dec. 11 /CNW Telbec/ - It's time for the Ontario government to
reverse the effects of a law that has caused injured workers to lose
20 per cent in compensation earnings over the last decade while providing
savings and reward payments to employers, says the Canadian Union of Public
Employees (CUPE) Ontario.
    At rallies in cities including Toronto, Windsor and St. Catharines, the
Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups (ONIWG) and partners, including CUPE
Ontario, today called on the McGuinty government to make full restitution of
the losses that injured workers have incurred since Bill 99 was introduced in
1997. That law introduced cost-of-living cuts in pensions and future awards
for injured workers. Over the same decade, employers have received a
25 per cent reduction in what they pay for workers compensation.
    "Like much of what we see in today's economy, this law has shifted the
burden of employment and social responsibilities from corporations onto the
backs of workers in this province," said CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer Fred
Hahn at a rally held in front of the Minister of Labour's Toronto offices. "If
the McGuinty government is truly committed to poverty reduction, it must act
on behalf of those workers who have sacrificed their health in workplaces to
build Ontario and its economy."
    Hahn and other speakers outlined four steps that the Provincial
government can take to ensure that injured workers and their families do not
continue to fall into poverty and that employers pay their fair share:

    - The government must fully restore the 20 per cent of earnings losses
      incurred by injured workers over the last decade. A meager
      cost-of-living increase of 2.5 per cent in 2007, 2008 and 2009
      respectively, will not lift injured workers out of poverty.

    - Injured workers who cannot return to their jobs must be provided with
      their actual lost wages, not a 'deemed' or 'determined' amount
      calculated by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
      Currently, the Board assesses what an injured worker would be paid in
      an alternative suitable job.

    - Incentives and rebates paid to employers who reduce their accident
      rates must be examined carefully. Too many employers are
      under-reporting accidents, forcing injured workers back to work before
      they are medically able, or paying sick benefits rather than claiming
      benefits to make their numbers look better.

    - There must be mandatory WSIB coverage for all Ontario workers
      regardless of business size or industry type.

For further information:

For further information: Valerie Dugale, CUPE Communications, (647)
225-3685; Fred Hahn, CUPE Ontario Secretary-Treasurer, (416) 540-3979

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Canadian Union of Public Employees - Ontario Regional Office

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