By David Newberry and Sarah Neath
In Ontario’s current climate of extreme austerity, you might think that injured workers have little to celebrate. And yet, on Saturday, June 1, that is exactly what they will be doing.
For the 36th year in a row, injured workers and their allies from all over the province will gather at Queen’s Park to commemorate Injured Workers Day and the rich history of resistance with a family-friendly event.
The event, organized by the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups (ONIWG), comes on the heels of some of the most successful injured worker organizing in recent memory. On May 14, an unprecedented 11 communities took part in an Ontario-wide day of action that saw injured workers take to the streets in front of Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) and MPP offices, shopping centers, and transit hubs to spread the word that now, more than ever, Workers’ Comp is a Right.
Last week, ONIWG released “Phantom Jobs & Empty Pockets”, a whistleblower report that uses secret WSIB documents to show what advocates have long known: WSIB policy is making injured workers poor, and the compensation board knows it. Now there is a private members bill before the legislature that, if passed, would end WSIB’s practice of pretending injured workers have jobs that they don’t in fact have.
In short, while the Ontario government continues to roll out harmful cuts, injured workers are fighting harder than ever, and it is this strength that we are celebrating on Injured Workers Day.
In its 36th year, June 1 will provide an opportunity for injured workers, allies, and families to remind the government of the core demands of their ongoing Workers’ Comp is a Right campaign, launched by ONIWG in 2017 to remind everyone of the need for a system that protects everyone. The campaign calls on the government to support demands like:
- No cuts based on phantom jobs
- Listen to injured workers’ treating healthcare professionals
- Stop cutting benefits based on “pre-existing conditions”
Even more than in years past, it is vitally important that all Ontarian’s gather together to demand fair treatment and coverage from the WSIB, and to reject the path of service cuts and poverty-creation being implemented by Doug Ford’s PC government.
Case in point: While injured workers continue to be forced into poverty by punitive policy, wealthy employers were recently gifted with a 30% reduction in their premiums – amounting to billions of dollars in savings for the people who are supposed to fund the system, while the total amount of benefits being paid to those the system is supposed to protect continues to plummet.
Additionally, the night before June 1, the Women of Inspiration will hold their annual vigil at 6:00pm on the steps of the legislature, to remember the struggles and resilience of women injured workers.
While these events are intended to be a show of force, they will also be celebratory, and attendees are also encouraged to bring their families. Both events will feature refreshments and cultural performances alongside messages of solidarity and resistance.
Injured workers have proven that they will not give up the fight until they are provided with a system designed to support and care for the workers of Ontario when they are injured or made ill on the job.
Join our fight. Join our celebration.
For information on:
Women of Inspiration Vigil – firstname.lastname@example.org
June 1 rally and march – https://www.facebook.com/events/587379061788603/