Thursday, October 22, 2009

Violence in the Worker’s Compensation System-Desperate Times for Injured Workers

I would highly advise all worker’s who have been harmed by the Worker’s Compensation system NOT to walk into the worker’s compensation buildings toting a rifle like one angry man did yesterday, demanding help.

It won’t get you anywhere except in jail or in a straight jacket.

Unfortunately, injured workers find out too late, only after they are seriously injured, that the
WC system is broken, leaving many of them without adequate medical care, no avenue for future employment and without adequate compensation. Many injured workers become desperate and angry, realizing that the system has failed them and their future.

It can lead to desperate measures like the one took by this rifle-toting man, demanding help at gunpoint.

I am almost certain that every injured worker who has been mistreated by Worker’s Compensation can empathize with the struggles that this man must have endured to make him act so desperately. But his desperate act was not the right choice and it doesn’t help anyone. The way to solve the problem is not with violence but with unity.

The problem, however, is that there is no adequate organization that is currently available to help injured workers who are getting dumped on by the Worker’s Compensation system.

Injured workers around the world must show leadership and organize as a group. There is no other group that understands the problems beset within the Worker’s Compensation system better than the injured worker.

Injured Workers need to unite to help educate other workers about the real problems that exist. Injured Workers also need to support union representation to protect worker and public health and safety.

If injured workers do not unite, nothing will get accomplished. Desperate times and desperate measures will continue and injured workers will remain abandoned and mistreated as they are today.


  1. Good morning;

    I have read your article on the case of the hostage situation concerning the WCB in Edmonton AB, Canada and although I am very supportive of injured workers, I do not encourage the use of any weapons or threats as this will most definitely not get you the outcome you want, it will more probable than not delay and decision favorable in the claim.

    Having said that, Injured Workers here in Ontario are at the very least being bullied over by WSIB workers. We all suffered at the hands of bullies in school and now we face them again if we happen to get hurt on the job. There is no accountability for wrong decisions, no recourse to take against the WSIB, you are left standing there helpless.

    Ontario has even gone one step further in abusing the injured workers. I was the Vice-President and Advocate for IW, and I’ve heard some extreme stories of how injured workers were bullied and abused to the point of some committing suicide. I was helping IW with cases, appeals and our group was a non-funded, non-profit registered organization where advocates such as myself were helping individuals at no cost to them win or lose. No upfront fees, no percentage on the claim, not a dime was charged to the IW.

    This all came to a halt when the Law Society of Upper Canada forced on us Bill-14 where it was to regulate paralegals, but unfortunately it also took away my right as a volunteer to represent injured workers without being licensed and insured with the LSUC. This means, that injured workers now have to suffer more financial hardship if they cannot find anyone to represent them from either their union, the Office of the Worker Advisor (only if they are not unionized) or act on their own behalf. Although the LSUC put in some exemptions to being licensed and insured, one being; a non-profit organization will be exempt from licensing and insurance provided they are funded by the WSIB, now since we had written multitude of letters stating our group was non funded the LSUC still put in the funding clause.

  2. A second exemption was acting for a family friend or neighbour. This exemption gave us an opportunity to keep helping our fellow injured workers, until the WSIB decided that they would decide who my friends are. Yes, in a democratic country such as Canada, the WSIB has empowered itself to appoint vice chairs to have telephone interviews with the injured workers and their representatives, sequester them, ask them questions and then decide if they were friends. If the vice chair rules that they are not friends, the IW now must find other means of representation.

    I’m perplexed as to what criteria the vice chair is using as a definition of friend, since we have looked it up in the dictionary and found that the people we represented certainly fell within that definition. Moreover, where does one go to get educated on this job. I certainly would like a job where you do phone interviews and deem the parties friends or foes. What training is needed? How can you even evaluate body language if you are doing a phone interview? If the IW is fortunate enough to win the appeal, and they cannot return to the pre accident job, then they are trained for another job. Sounds pretty good…..but, the IW has no say in what they will be trained in. That is not a typing error, the IW is referred to a Labour Market Re-entry provider, and the latter along with the Adjudicator will decide what is most cost effective for the WSIB and if the IW does not agree, then their benefits are cut off and they are deemed to be uncooperative. An example would be an injured worker which I represented being a heavy equipment operator injured his back, could not return to that job, the accident employer could not accommodate the restrictions therefore the WSIB was willing to retrain him. The jobs which the CA and the LMR came up with were: Telemarketer, gas station attendant, social worker, and an obvious career for this heavy equipment operator…… a funeral director.

    In reality, when a worker gets injured, their entire lives change. Not only from dealing with pain, discomfort, depression, etc, but also his family life changes. The income is no longer there to send the kids to hockey school or to hire a tutor if they have a hard time in math. The rippling effects are astronomical, and although some don’t show it, they do exist.

    Although the scene in Edmonton was horrid and certainly not encouraged, I believe that you have to look at the root of the problem and not just the actions. Something drove this man over the edge, and in dealing with several cases, I can sympathize (as an IW myself) with not only this man, but all IW being bullied, discouraged, and having to fight yet another battle for fair compensation.

    The government must realize that the system needs to be revamped. Workers gave up their right to sue the employer in 1915 for a system that was suppose to take care of them should they get hurt. Slowly, the government have chipped away at their benefits and making it harder to get initial entitlement, causing workers to lose their cars, their homes, and most importantly their families. Our Ontario government understand and our members of parliament agree that the system needs to be worked on, but they never seem to have the time.

    I thank you for the time you have taken to read my thoughts.

  3. thank you so much for sharing. I am currently in an LMR program, but WSIB's investigators love to enter my home when i'm not there, push me, follow me EVERYWHERE (even on campus).
    I installed a peephole camera to chatch these sick individuals standing at my front door and the police say video evidence is not good enough...i see this man's frustration, but violence is not the answer. We can let WSIB and their staff demonstrate the violence.

  4. Many people have heard of worker's compensation insurance, there are many aspects of this protection that people do not understand. Lack of information can lead to difficult issues when deciding whether or not to choose this path, after work related injury occurs. Understanding your rights and protections under these laws beforehand is important, and will most likely not come in a straightforward explanation from your employer.

  5. Thank you for this info as I'm going throught this problem with W.S.I.B. but I appear to be getting a Little more from them. It's been almost six months since I attempted to reopen My file do to being sent back to work too early and the reinjury flearing up again I believe do to the lack of use of my arm. I have not gotten any info from wsib in almost 4 months other then a letter stating that my appeal has been received and that info on my clain would be sent too me and that was dated Oct 28-09. Any advice would be apprieciated.

  6. Oh Canada,What have we become. We've become a society of non-producers. Everyone wants to make their living off someone else's back.I use to be a proud hard worker,But now i live on cpp disability and have lost my pride,my family and basically any reason to live.I think we are all in the process of getting a lesson taught.Oh canada we can't survive on lawyers,realators and hockey.I look forward to a future where non-producers go hungry and you know who you are..

  7. I've been waiting 20 years for my case to be heard by the wsiat. I had my hearing 3 months ago finally. What kills me is all the people who scam the system and always seem to get a wheel barrel full of money. And face it, we all know someone is collecting our benifits

  8. Wow - I didn't realise this was in such a state. My uncle is in a similar situation to many then.
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  9. I've had similar experiences, seems to be a big problem that needs addressing.

  10. I also against violence against workers. Yes guys please unite and fight against your right. No one can take away your right from you.
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