OFL, Injured Workers and Medical Professionals File Official Request for Ombuds Ontario Investigation into the WSIB

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 29, 2016

OFL, Injured Workers and Medical Professionals File Official Request for Ombuds Ontario Investigation into the WSIB

(TORONTO, ON) ─ Following up on a bombshell report released last November, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups (ONIWG) filed a formal complaint with Ontario Ombudsman Barbara Finlay, calling for a full investigation into the practices of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Backed by over 20 medical professionals and substantiated with 45 case examples, the submission alleges that the WSIB “systematically ignores the advice of medical professionals for the purpose of rejecting and limiting otherwise legitimate injury claims.”

“Over 20 medical doctors, psychologists, chiropractors and physiotherapists have come forward and put their reputations on the line to expose the WSIB’s intentionally ignorant and dangerously negligent treatment of injured workers,” said Chris Buckley, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour. “The overwhelming evidence that we have collected suggests that the WSIB is ignoring the professional advice of treating physicians and putting injured workers on the street and in harm’s way.”

The complaint builds on evidence collected in the 2015 report: Prescription Over-Ruled: Report on How Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Systematically Ignores the Advice of Medical Professionals. It was submitted to the Ontario Ombuds office as a last resort, after concerns were dismissed by the senior management of the WSIB. The collection of case examples document the WSIB’s failure to heed medical advice regarding readiness to return to work, insufficient treatment, blaming ‘pre-existing’ conditions for ongoing illness, and using independent medical reviews which proclaim patients to be healed, despite the evidence of treating practitioners. Instead, the complaint accuses the WSIB of routinely rejecting the advice of treating physicians in favour of the contradictory diagnoses of “paper doctors,” who review the claim file without ever examining the patient.

“Since we first exposed this issue three months ago, we have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of doctors, injured workers and advocates who have come forward to share their experiences with a Kafkaesque WSIB bureaucracy that seems hell-bent on deeming injured workers healed when they are anything but,” said Aidan Macdonald of the Injured Workers’ Consultants Community Legal Clinic. “I suspect that behind every one of the courageous injured workers who came forward to share their story, there are a hundred others with exactly the same experience.”

“When we are forced back to work too soon, we put ourselves at risk of re-injury, and many injured workers are driven to depression, poverty and even suicide,” said Catherine Fenech of the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups. “Every injured worker deserves all of the benefits and services that they are entitled to by law and, moreover, we deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”

The official complaint to the Ombuds Office can be downloaded here: http://ofl.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016.01.29-OmbudsSubmission-PUBLIC.pdf

(NOTE: The case studies have been excised from the public version of the complaint to protect the identities of patients, but injured workers are available to share their experiences with the media.)

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

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For further information:

Joel Duff, OFL Communications Director: 416-707-0349 (cell) or jduff@ofl.ca *ENG/FRENCH*

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