October 6, 2017
(TORONTO, ON) – As Canadians continue to recognize Mental Illness Awareness Week, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) is deeply disappointed by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s (WSIB) policy decision to use “predominate cause” for mental stress claims rather than the “significant contribution” test.
“This decision appears to be in direct contravention of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and it is time that the Board stops using policy to deny rightful compensation to injured workers suffering from chronic mental stress,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley. “We stand in solidarity with the injured worker community in calling for corrective action, and a rethink of this discriminatory provision.”
In a draft submission earlier this year, the Federation applauded the Board for including the “significant contributing factor” causation test as the standard of proof in its draft chronic mental stress policy. The test, which has been applied in more than 15,000 workers’ compensation decisions at the Tribunal and has never been successfully challenged at judicial review, assesses if a worker’s employment made a significant contribution to the occurrence of an injury. However, today’s announcement means – unlike workers with other physical injuries – injured workers claiming benefits for chronic mental stress will be unfairly restricted by having to establish a higher standard of proof for entitlement.
“The Board should be cautious of perpetuating existent mental health stigmas, and rather, should take definitive action to ensure that workers who suffer from chronic mental stress are not discriminated against under the compensation system,” said Buckley.
In any given week, thousands of Ontario workers suffer through work-related mental health challenges and illness and for decades the provincial workers’ compensation policies have failed to address increasing discrimination against injured workers with mental stress.
The OFL calls on the WSIB to immediately take adequate measures that ensures workers suffering from mental stress are treated fairly and without discrimination. In addition, the Board should make certain that any measures taken on the matter are fully retroactive to January 1, 1998, when the discriminatory limitation to entitlement came into force.
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Meagan Perry, Director of Communications
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