June 1st is Ontario Injured Workers Day

On June 1, 1983, over three thousand protesters gathered at Queen’s Park and on the steps of the legislature. It was a time of civic activism. 

Unions were protesting unregulated workplace health hazards and lack of worker rights over their own safety. Many were organizing to protest the way they and their claims were being handled by a hostile and often discriminatory WSIB board and the medical consultants. They demanded to be treated with respect and dignity.  

They successfully opposed the government proposal to eliminate disability insurance for workers permanently disabled on the job. They were able to force the government to look at major changes to Ontario workers compensation system. Pressure by injured workers groups eventually had them agree to set aside a day of hearings for injured workers to voice their concerns. It was the start they needed. 

Our work is far from done. WSIB statistics show that in Ontario claims for lost time injuries affect thousands of workers on the job every year. 

Sadly, the Ontario government continues to cut back WSIB and health benefits for injured workers. 

Injured Workers groups and supporters in Ontario have raised the issue of the annual indexing of injured workers benefits with the WSIB and government. While the consumer price index was 4.7%, WSIB only gave 2.7%. 

On November 2, 2021, the Ontario government announced that the minimum wage will increase to $15.00/hr on January 1, 2022.  There are unintended consequences that arise for injured workers as a result of the hikes to the minimum wage. Fairness requires that minimum wage increases should not be used to reduce the benefits of unemployed injured workers who are deemed/determined to have earnings from jobs they do not have and are not available to them.  

Age 65 is the cut off age for injured worker benefits.  This puts a large number of seniors at risk of financial instability. The skyrocketing cost of living is on top of the minds of many Ontarians heading into June’s provincial election. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board’s (WSIB) arbitrary and discriminatory age 65 cut off for wage loss benefits must be changed to support a growing number of senior workers.  

No one is immune to injuries but through increased awareness and better safety measures that have been fought for by Unions, fewer workers need medical treatment for avoidable mishaps.  

The movement by generations of workers as well as injured workers groups across the province has transformed the lives of all workers and we thank them for their dedication. 

June 1st of every year we the workers rally and stand together to acknowledge and support workers that may be seriously injured or lost their lives. 

It is important that all workers in Ontario continue the work that was started 39 years ago. We have come along way in 39 years, but we are not finished. We must continue the fight for workers rights to a safe work environment and access to a safety net if the unthinkable happens and we are severity injured.  

Please this June 1st attend and support the Injured Workers Day rally in your area. Each one of us can make a difference. 

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