New Ontario legislation supports injured workers

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The Ontario government is introducing legislation that would, if passed, support injured workers by enabling “super indexing” increases to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) benefits above the annual rate of inflation.

For an injured worker who earns $70,000 a year, a two per cent increase could mean an additional $900 annually on top of cost-of-living adjustments, which were 6.5 per cent in 2023. The current number of worker and survivor WSIB claims that are indexed to inflation each year is 134,000.

The government also intends to bring forth a regulation under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 that would add poisonings by chlorine, ammonia and hydrogen sulfide to the list of presumed occupational diseases, making it easier and faster for workers in certain occupations to obtain compensation from the WSIB.

In October, the province launched an Occupational Illness Leadership Table, which will include some of the province’s foremost voices on occupational illness.

To help workers dealing with a critical illness, the government will be launching consultations on a new, job-protected leave to match the length of federal Employment Insurance sickness benefits, which is 26 weeks. A job-protected leave could ensure employees who receive a diagnosis of cancer or other diseases will have the peace of mind that their job will be waiting for them while they seek treatment.

“Ontarians should be able to focus on their cancer treatment without worrying about what it means for their job or how their family will pay their bills,” said Hillary Buchan-Terrell, Advocacy Manager for the Canadian Cancer Society. “We look forward to engaging with the government during this consultation to ensure the perspectives and concerns of cancer patients in Ontario are heard.”

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