In light of the 110th Anniversary of the Justice Meredith Report, NDP MPP Lise Vaugeois (Thunder Bay—Superior North), Official Opposition critic for WSIB and Injured Workers, is speaking out against the deteriorating situation for injured and ill workers caused by the Ford Conservatives.
In 1913, Justice Meredith’s three-year Royal Commission delivered a report that set forth a system for fair compensation that balanced the interests of workers, employers and the public. Today’s system no longer operates as intended, as the original vision has been lost along the way, with governments prioritizing employers over the safety of employees.
“110 years ago, Chief Justice William Meredith laid out a vision for our workers’ compensation system that emphasized ‘full justice’ for injured workers,” said Vaugeois. “Today, we find ourselves light-years away from those principles. The WSIB, once a source of support, now operates like a private insurance company, routinely denying claims and treating workers with complete disregard. It is shameful to witness the government’s blatant preference for compensating employers over providing justice to workers.”
A recent report has unveiled the alarming underperformance of Ontario’s workers’ compensation system compared to other industrialized nations. The current system, seemingly more concerned with saving employers’ money and limiting claims, has failed to take occupational diseases seriously. The Ontario NDP believes the time has come for the Ford Conservatives to collaborate with organizations like the Occupational Disease Reform Alliance and take the necessary steps to expand the list of presumed work-related occupational diseases.
“It is unacceptable that in a system designed to protect workers, we are witnessing such a drastic departure from Chief Justice Meredith’s vision. Instead of improving the system to serve injured and ill workers, Ford’s Conservatives are doubling down, cutting funds, repressing claims and threatening to reduce appeal periods – making it harder and harder for workers to receive the support they need and deserve. Our commitment should be to the welfare of all workers. Until the Ford government is willing to align the system with the original principles laid out by Chief Justice Meredith, they should stop the pretense of being there for workers because, clearly, they are not and never have been.”
The underlying “Meredith principles”:
- No Fault – No need to prove the accident was the employer’s fault, no extra charge to the employer.
- Non-adversarial – An inquiry system, based on benefit of the doubt that “seeks to compensate,” and cannot be challenged in court. No blame.
- Compensation for as long as disability lasts– Worker can depend on security of benefits based on lost wages and promptly paid. The injured worker was not to become a financial burden on their family or the community.
- Employer pays – Employer pays the rates because the costs can be passed on to others (in prices of goods and services, and in wage negotiations). Meredith noted that workers cannot pass the cost on and pay in other ways, including some level of lost income despite the compensation.
- Collective liability – Employers pay into a single accident fund and do not suffer financial consequences from the cost of a specific accident.
- Independent Public Agency – Set up to be a non-partisan organization to administer claims and assessments.
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