(Canadian OH&S News) — The Government of Ontario has proposed amendments to the province’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) that would provide full Consumer Price Index (CPI) indexation of all benefits for injured workers who receive only partial disability benefits.
According to a bulletin from the Ontario Ministry of Labour, about 140,000 injured workers in the province receive partial disability from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). But currently, only workers on full benefits and their survivors get full CPI increases. The potential amendments, introduced in the legislature on Nov. 18, would allow all injured workers in the province to receive full CPI adjustments starting on Jan. 1, 2018.
“We are committed to providing a fair, just and efficient workers’ compensation system,” Ontario Labour Minister Kevin Flynn said in a press statement on Nov. 20. “These proposals would ensure that all injured workers are treated the same, as well as ensure that benefits for injured workers on partial disability keep pace with inflation.
“Respect for those injured at work is essential, and working toward a fair and predictable compensation system is the right thing to do,” added Flynn.
The government also plans to propose an increase of 0.5 per cent in partial disability benefits starting on the upcoming Jan. 1, based on workers’ pre-injury gross earnings, as well as a one per cent increase beginning on Jan. 1 of the following year.
“These changes will be a huge step forward for injured workers in Ontario and will provide them predictable increases on their benefits every year,” said Flynn. “Our goal is to provide a fair, just and efficient workers’ compensation system.”
The MOL noted that the changes were intended to complement proposed amendments in Bill 109, or the Employment and Labour Statute Law Amendment Act, which had been tabled in May. If passed into law, Bill 109 will update the WSIA to protect workers from employer retribution when applying for benefits, increase the maximum corporate penalties for WSIA offences and determine WSIB survivor benefits based on the average earnings of the deceased employee’s occupation.
Bill 109 also involves changes to the Fire Prevention and Protection Act and the Public Sector Labour Relations Transition Act. The bill is part of the provincial government’s four-part plan to increase worker protections.
“Our government is committed to advancing safe, fair and respectful workplace practices,” Flynn said upon the introduction of Bill 109 on May 28. “That’s why I’ve proposed these changes, which will, if they become law, provide increased fairness to workers across Ontario by strengthening protections in legislation.”