Coalition Submissions to the Standing Committee on Bill 127, Legislation that Would Give WSIB Unfettered Discretion to Change the Law
On Monday, May 15, 2017, a broad-based Coalition of stakeholder groups provided submissions to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs about Bill 127. A number of other important stakeholders including the Ontario Federation of Labour also appeared and made submissions on the extremely troubling aspects of this legislation.
The Coalition members were:
- Antony Singleton
- ARCH Disability Law Centre
- Ellen Lipes
- Gary Newhouse
- Health Care Professionals for Injured Workers
- IAVGO Community Legal Clinic
- Injured Workers Action for Justice
- Injured Workers’ Consultants
- Michael Green
- Ontario Network of Injured Worker Groups
- Peter Bird
- Renfrew County Legal Clinic
- The Legal Clinic
- Toronto Injured Workers’ Advocacy Group
- West Toronto Community Legal Services
In their submissions, attached below, the Coalition members stated in part:
“We write to you in alarm. The s 159 amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act set the stage for the dissolution of more than 30 years of settled law designed by this legislature to fairly compensate injured workers.
The s 159 amendments will neutralize the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) and give the management of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) absolute power to decide what benefits they will allow injured workers to have, regardless of the intention of this legislature as expressed in the Act. These amendments will allow the WSIB to legalize all of the unauthorized cost cutting practices it has developed to reduce benefit payments.
For the past seven years, injured workers have borne the brunt of austerity measures implemented by the WSIB in a bid to get its financial house in order. The WSIB has been singularly focused on reducing its costs, and has adjudicated claims accordingly. These benefit payment cuts have resulted in the retention of billions of dollars Our clients and members have suffered the direct consequences of these cuts. They have been denied needed health care. They have been denied counselling. They have been denied the minimum financial supports needed to survive after workplace injury.
The decision to grant the WSIB an unprecedented and unfettered new discretion to change the law is unconscionable. Changes of the type contemplated by this policy-making power are fundamental to the workers’ compensation scheme; they belong in the legislature to be made through the proper democratic process. Worker stakeholders will not abide this change.”