(TORONTO, ON) – More workers were killed at work in 2013 than in any of the previous five years, says the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL), bringing the death toll back up to par with a ten year high. However, despite Ontario’s shameful distinction, the CEO of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is slated to receive a $400,000 bonus as he continues to allow convicted companies to reap millions in rebates.
For 23 years, Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups (ONIWG) has been hosting a Christmas protest outside the Ministry of Labour to demand safer working conditions and end the poverty of injured workers and their families. This year’s protest, scheduled for 11 am on Monday, December 8, 2014, at the Ministry of Labour (400 University Ave) comes at a time when the WSIB is plagued by scandal and controversy.
“The WSIB is failing in its core mandate to protect the lives of workers while on the job. It is time for the Wynne government to step in and clean house,” said OFL President Sid Ryan. “How can the WSIB CEO be allowed to continue shamefully rewarding convicted companies while injured workers and their survivors are languishing in poverty?”
The 2013 WSIB Statistical Report demonstrates an alarming 36 percent increase in traumatic on-the-job fatalities over the past five years, bringing them back up to peak 2004 levels. In 2008, 64 workers lost their lives in traumatic incidents at work, but that number climbed to 87 in 2013. An average of 200 more workers died each year because of occupational disease and tens of thousands were seriously injured.
Meanwhile, an explosive report released in late November by the OFL demonstrated that the WSIB continues to pay millions in premium rebates to employers convicted for killing or maiming workers on the job. This fact is particularly appalling to injured worker advocates who have drawn attention to the fact that the WSIB’s paltry benefit payments to injured workers have not kept pace with inflation over the past 20 years. According to ONIWG, there has also been a 20 percent increase in denied claims between 2001 and 2013.
The OFL sent a letter to Minister of Labour Kevin Flynn demanding immediate action and, at a meeting planned for later this month, will be calling for a regime change at the WSIB.
“Ontario’s response to workplace safety is upside down,” said Ryan. “Convicted employers are getting rewards when they should be getting jail time; injured workers are living in poverty instead of dignity; and the man in charge is getting bonuses when he should be shown the door.”