Put Food in the Budget campaign report on food banks
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The following is a letter from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Put Food in the Budget steering committee has agreed to endorse this letter. If you would like to also endorse, there is a link to download your own copy at the end.
June 10, 2016
President and CEO
Workplace Safety and Insurance Board
Premier of Ontario
Minister of Labour
Members of the Provincial Legislature
Dear Mr. Teahen and Honourable Members of the Legislature,
We the undersigned are writing to express our concerns about how the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has shifted the way it funds healthcare to the 200,000 workers who are injured every year in this province. We are deeply concerned that injured workers are unable to get the treatment that their doctors recommend and that the WSIB is taking patient care out of the hands of treating doctors.
The WSIB is moving to direct patient care itself with the goal of managing claim costs. From 2005 to 2014, the WSIB more than doubled its spending on “specialized clinical services and programs”. Workers and their advocates tell us that these programs often push injured workers to return to work prematurely and predict recovery dates, which WSIB adjudicators frequently use to end claims without any follow up with the worker or their physician. Meanwhile, in the same 2005-2014 time period, the WSIB cut spending by more than 40% on: physiotherapy, chiropractic and other non-physician treatment services (which include psychological treatment). And, since 2009, the WSIB has cut its spending on drug benefits by close to 30%.
Rather than moving to direct patient care themselves, WSIB should be: listening to injured workers’ doctors and paying for proper treatment in the workers’ community, providing psychological support, providing compensation to injured workers whose doctors recommend time away from work, and collecting needed medical information rather than asking the worker to do it.
The WSIB’s actions are having a devastating impact on injured workers, especially those who are already marginalized. In addition to workers who lack private health plans and unions to help protect modified jobs after the WSIB closes claims, one group that faces some of the WSIB’s harshest healthcare-related adjudicative practices are injured migrant workers.
In 2013, the Canadian Medical Association Journal reported that from 2001 to 2011 approximately 800 migrant workers were medically repatriated for injuries and illnesses sustained while working in Ontario. Upon return to their home countries, the WSIB requires migrant workers to pay upfront for transportation, medical services, tests and prescriptions. As highlighted in the launch of a recent human rights case, these medical costs are often prohibitive.
As organizations and individuals that advocate with injured workers for reforms, we call on the Provincial Government and the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) to undertake the following reforms:
Heed the advice of injured workers’ treating doctors and psychologists
Promptly pay for all healthcare expenses including physiotherapy, medication, assistive devices and mental health supports that treating doctors recommend for workplace injuries
Collect medical information that is needed to adjudicate a claim, while respecting the privacy of injured workers, rather than asking workers to collect reports
Recognize the impact of workplace injuries on mental health and grant the appropriate WSIB entitlements so workers can be treated for these conditions
Offer accommodation expenses to injured migrant workers so they have the option of remaining in Ontario for healthcare
We urge you to take action immediately to address the concerns raised by injured workers so that they can live with dignity.
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