Injured workers protest outside WSIB office  Banner Image

Injured workers protest outside WSIB office

Stacey Modolo was dropping off her daughter at a WSIB appointment Monday when she saw a protest and joined in.

What she was hearing about complaints that the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board doesn’t listen to doctors’ recommendations hit home for Modolo.

WSIB covered costs for her 21-year-old daughter’s right foot that was broken in a fall at a fast-food restaurant, but when the Modolos went to their doctor and realized Karly’s other foot was also injured in the fall, they ran into problems even though their doctor said both feet were injured in the slip.

“We pulled up and I just saw some signs and I thought this is what we want to do. We want to fight for what’s right,” Stacey said. “It’s horrible what they are putting her through.”

Rolly Marentette, left, speaks during a morning rally in support of injured workers at WSIB offices on Ouellette Avenue, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. Nick Brancaccio / Windsor Star

WSIB officials make you feel like you’ve done something wrong, she said, but you haven’t.

About 20 people gathered for the protest in front of the Ouellette Avenue WSIB office Monday. It was organized by the Windsor and District Labour Council and the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups, which were holding demonstrations at other WSIB offices in Ontario on Monday.

In November the two groups released a report alleging WSIB systematically ignores the advice of doctors. The report calls for Ontario’s ombudsman to launch an investigation into how WSIB handles medical advice, to publish how often doctors’ advice is disregarded, to create a protocol to regulate faster response times, to eliminate the use of so-called “paper doctors” who rarely meet with patients and to give proper weight to the opinions of medical professionals.

Injured worker Liz Garant, centre, was joined by MP Tracey Ramsey, right, and about 20 others including Brian Hogan, president Windsor District Labour Council, during a morning rally in support of injured workers at WSIB offices on Ouellette Avenue, Monday, Dec. 14, 2015. Nick Brancaccio / Windsor Star

Essex MPP Taras Natyshak, who spoke at the rally, joined the call for an investigation. His Essex office gets a high volume of the WSIB claimants and it seems like the system is actively working against injured workers. He says people get so frustrated they give up and in many cases end up on social assistance.

“They don’t have the ability, the capacity to appeal their claims when denied. They feel re-victimized and they feel stigmatized because they’re not looked at as injured workers but a liability to the system,” Natyshak said.

Brian Hogan, president of the Windsor and District Labour Council, said when injured workers aren’t helped we all pay because workers turn to OHIP and tend to go on social assistance.

The Windsor WSIB office referred inquiries to a Toronto office. WSIB issued a statement saying it “values the relationships it has with thousands of health-care practitioners across the province and relies on their professionalism and expertise.”