TORONTO, July 05, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A coalition of injured workers and advocates have filed a lawsuit against the Ontario Government and the WSIB, arguing that the WSIB’s handling of workers with chronic mental health injuries is in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. They are requesting that the Court declare the law that bars compensation for work-acquired chronic stress injuries to be invalid.  They are also requesting an order forcing the WSIB to refrain from relying on the invalid sections in adjudicating claims. 

The lawsuit comes after the WSIB’s own independent Appeals Tribunal has on three occasions declared the law and WSIB policy barring chronic mental stress claims to be in violation of the Charter. The bar on chronic mental stress claims was amended in May with the passing of Bill 127, but the change only applies to workers after 2018. This leaves over 20 years of claimants with chronic mental health injuries in the lurch.

Laura Lunansky, a lawyer with Injured Workers' Consultants, the legal clinic involved in the case, calls the current state of affairs an embarrassment to the administration of justice: “It’s a disgrace that this group of people with work-acquired mental illness continue to be subjected to a discriminatory law – a law that the government and the WSIB know is discriminatory, but that the WSIB continues to apply anyways.”

The WSIB’s approach is discriminatory towards people like Ottawa’s Margery Wardle, who developed PTSD after being sexually harassed while working as one of only two female heavy equipment operators for the City of Ottawa.  Although it is hard for Wardle to talk about what happened to her, she agreed to be the representative applicant in the lawsuit in the hope that she can make a difference for workers like her. 

Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups (ONIWG) President Willy Noiles hopes the lawsuit “will bring attention to the injustice facing those with mental health disabilities.  Here we have a Minister of Labour who claims to be particularly concerned with mental health, and a Premier who campaigns on the slogan that `no one be left behind`. And yet both have allowed the discriminatory treatment of these workers with mental health disabilities to go on.”

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For more information, please contact: 
Aidan Macdonald
Injured Workers’ Consultants Community Legal Clinic