DCN ARCHIVES

April 4, 2007

Health & Safety

WSIA changes benefit injured workers

Injured construction workers could be treated more fairly if amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) are passed.

The measures introduced in Ontario’s recent budget could provide a 2.5 per cent increase in compensation benefits in each of three consecutive years starting July 1, for recipients receiving partial benefits.

Patrick Dillon, business manager with the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario (PBCTCO), lauded the new proposal.

“It’s the first time since the 1980s that someone is actually improving benefits for injured workers,” said Dillon. “Obviously, there will be critics who will say this is not enough — and it isn’t — but it’s a step in the right direction.”

Steve Peters, Minister of Labour, told Daily Commercial News the benefits for some injured workers who suffer a temporary or permanent deterioration in their condition once their benefit level is fixed 72 months post-injury can have their benefit reviewed and potentially receive more financial help.

“In short, these proposed changes are a significant step in creating a brighter future for some of Ontario’s workers,” added Peters.

Further benefits for injured workers if the WSIA reforms are passed would:

Help injured workers retain benefits when work they could perform after rehabilitation is not available;

Give workers who reach the age of 65 greater financial control through a lump sum payment in lieu of monthly payments in cases where a recipient’s loss of retirement income benefits would be less than $3,000 a year;

Provide greater representation on the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) by increasing the size of the board and clarify that the positions of Chair and President are separate.

Dillon was skeptical about the effectiveness of adding more board members to WSIB.

“It will depend on the eating of the pudding and not the smelling of it,” he added.

The WSIB said it will continue to provide information to the Ministry of Labour to support development of legislative changes proposed in the 2007 budget, according to Michael Swart, a spokesperson with WSIB.

“It is too soon to tell what effect, if any, these changes will have on any particular industry,” added Swart.

Should legislative change be approved, the WSIB will be prepared for the implementation date for amendments, said Swart.

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