OHS Canada Magazine

Ontario reviewing occupational illnesses to find, fix roadblocks

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April 18, 2022
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety Legislation

(KingmaPhotos/Adobe Stock)

Ontario is launching a review of its occupational illness system for the first time in its history.

Conducted by the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, an independent research centre with expertise in studying complex community health issues, the review will evaluate how occupational illnesses in Ontario are identified, monitored, and prevented.

“Ontario has one of the strongest health and safety records in the country, but we need to make sure our system works for everyone,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “I have tasked this team of independent experts to find a clear path forward that improves supports for injured workers and their families.”

Parkinson’s Disease added to list

In February, the province formally recognized Parkinson’s Disease as an occupational disease linked to work-related McIntyre Powder exposure leading to faster injury compensation claims for workers and their families.

“As science advances and our understanding of occupational disease evolves, we need to make sure our systems of support keep up,” says Jeffery Lang, President and CEO of the WSIB. “It is crystal clear we need everyone involved in the occupational disease system to work together to prevent illnesses in the first place, and properly identify them when they do happen.”


The system-wide study, expected in December of this year, will focus on finding and fixing roadblocks and complexities that were identified by Dr. Paul Demers in the 2020 independent review of occupational disease. This could lead to more timely compensation and better recognize work related illnesses.

The research team will consult with health and safety system partners including labour groups and workers’ rights advocates, employers, health care professionals and the health and safety community.

Quick facts

  • The Ontario government and the WSIB are partnering to launch the first-ever review of the province’s occupational illness system.
  • An occupational illness is a condition that results from exposure to a physical, chemical, or biological agent in the workplace to the extent that the normal physiological mechanisms are affected and the health of the worker is impaired.
  • According to the Association of Worker’s Compensation Boards of Canada, Ontario’s occupational health and safety record is among the best in Canada, with the province achieving the lowest rate of work time lost to injury among any province or territory since 2009.
  • The WSIB is an independent agency that provides loss of earnings and other benefits to workers and their survivors, health care, and assists in early, safe return to work for workers injured on the job or made ill by an occupational disease.
  • In support of Dr. Demers’ report, Using Scientific Evidence and Principles to Help Determine the Work-Relatedness of Cancer, the WSIB recently established a new scientific advisory table for occupational disease to guide their decision making.
  • Ontario recently invested more than $6 million to support research led by the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) to identify the causes of workplace cancers, prevent them from occurring, and better support workers already impacted by occupational illness.


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