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November 5, 2015

Prescription Over-Ruled: Report on How Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Systematically Ignores the Advice of Medical Professionals


In September of this year, Dr. Brenda Steinnagel filed a lawsuit against her employer and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), alleging that she was fired by the clinic she worked for at the behest of the WSIB, because she refused to change her medical opinion to the one that the Board wanted to hear.
While her accusations are no doubt shocking to the general public, for injured workers – as well as their advocates and health care providers – the lawsuit confirms what has long been suspected: The WSIB’s inappropriate regulation of medical care is hurting patients with work injuries.
Long before Dr. Steinnagel came forward with her lawsuit, health care workers in this province were raising red flags about the ways in which the province’s compensation system treats their patients. Recently, more than a dozen concerned medical professionals approached the Ontario Federation of Labour and the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups to address mounting concerns with WSIB interference in medical care. This report hopes to shed light on some of these concerns and their implications for workers’ health.

The stories told in this report illustrate some of the ways the WSIB’s management of medical care and medical evidence harms patients. This includes failing to heed medical advice regarding readiness to return to work, insufficient treatment, blaming ‘pre-existing’ conditions for ongoing illness, or using independent medical reviews which proclaim patients to be healed, despite the evidence of treating practitioners. When these things happen, the injured patients find themselves re-victimized by the very system that is mandated to compensate and protect them.


  1. Have Ontario’s Ombudsman launch a formal investigation into the WSIB’s treatment of medical advice. Particularly the way in which health care providers’ professional advice is often not considered and the lack of explanation offered.
  2. Collect and make public statistics on how often injured workers’ health care providers’ advice is disregarded.
  3. Create a protocol that regulates rapid response times for requests from injured workers’ health care team. For example, requiring a decision within 48 hours when an urgent request for care is submitted to the Board.
  4. Eliminate the use of so-called “paper doctors,” who render decisions about care without ever meeting the patient.
  5. Give proper weight to the opinions of the medical professionals who know the injured worker best – their own health care team.

Click HERE to read the full report.

COPE 343


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  • Dr. Brenda Steinnagel
  • Ombudsman
  • Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups (ONIWG)
  • Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)