Injured Workers Day Protest Calls For Compensation Reform

Workers compensation is a right — that's the message being delivered at this year's Rally for Rolly on Injured Workers Day.

The peaceful demonstration in honour of local labour activist Rolly Marentette — who died of cancer last year at the age of 69 — took place in front of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board on Ouellette Ave. Friday.

Three key issues with WSIB are at the forefront province wide: the elimination of cuts based on "phantom jobs" or the cutting of pay after deeming the worker is employed when they actually are not, ignoring medical advice and finding "paper doctors" to refute medical experts to avoid paying on a claim,  and cutting benefits due to pre-existing conditions.

Heather Walsh-Gagnon injured her back and neck working as a nurse in New Foundland decades ago and after training for a new career in the legal field here is Windsor, she found herself injured again in 2007. She tells AM800 News both her arms are in pain daily and she finally received compensation after a tribunal.

"I shouldn't have had to go through ten years almost," she says. "My injury here in Ontario was in 2007 and my claim was finally approved by the tribunal in 2017."

Mike Jee is the Chairperson of the Day of Mourning Committee, he says there system is flawed and it needs a complete overhaul.

"The system is set up so that people that are working, they don't want to file," he says. "If you can hobble through it and get back to work, if you can, if you're lucky, without having to go through this whole process and fight."

Walsh Gagnon says WSIB needs to start operating to help people, while insurance is in the name, the organization should not be handling claims like a typical insurance company.

"Believe me, people do not want this, they don't choose to have lives taken away from them because of an injury, they don't choose that," says Walsh-Gagnon.

The Windsor and District Labour Council organized the rally and Jee says the council and the Ontario Network of Injured Workers' Groups is lobbying political hopefuls for reform heading into the Provincial Election on June 7.