TORONTO, Sept. 26, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups (ONIWG) is appalled that the Ford government and WSIB are giving yet another massive gift to employers in the form of a 17% premium rate reduction, especially with the announcement coming on the same day that a fifth worker was killed at Fiera Foods. Combined with last year’s 30% rate reduction, this means billions of dollars less coming into the system at a time when the WSIB’s own stats show an increase in injury rates, and companies like Fiera Foods, with a pattern of killing workers, are not held accountable.

“Work injuries are on the rise, precarious and unsafe jobs are increasing, injured worker poverty is rampant, and yet employers get a $600 million handout?” said ONIWG President Janet Paterson. “Is Fiera Foods going to get that 17% reduction too, despite its history? It’s just not right. Enough catering to the big business lobby.”

At its Annual General Meeting yesterday, WSIB officials also spoke proudly of the fact that the system is now 110% funded. The reality, though, is that the WSIB’s financial success has come on the backs of injured workers, with almost half of workers with permanent disabilities living at or near poverty levels.

“They’re proud that they’re 110% funded? Well let’s look at how well ‘funded’ injured workers are,” said Paterson. “We have members who have been denied compensation for years, who are 0% ‘funded.’ They’ve been forced onto social assistance. We have people who have been deemed to be working in jobs that they don’t actually have, living on less than $100 a week from the WSIB, making them 5% ‘funded.’ Imagine if the WSIB used some of its 110% to properly compensate people.”

ONIWG seeks to remind the WSIB and the government that employers don’t pay into workers’ compensation out of benevolence; they do it because workers gave up their right to sue employers for work injuries, in exchange for fair compensation. But now employers are getting increasingly cheap insurance, and bad bosses like those at Fiera Foods get protection from accountability, while injured workers are left out in the cold.

“Stories like these show that Ontario is increasingly open for exploitation,” said Paterson. “But we don’t accept that. We won’t rest until we see fairness restored to the workers’ compensation system, and justice for injured workers.”

For further information contact: Janet Paterson 807-472-6910