Witmer promises big changes at WSIB
Thunder Bay employer says workers 'jump on claim and enjoy the ride'
Posted: Nov 28, 2012 4:03 PM ET
Last Updated: Nov 28, 2012 3:56 PM ET
A Thunder Bay businessman says modern workers are taking advantage of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
At a meeting with the board's chair Wednesday morning, Fountain Tire owner Darcy Hunter asked Elizabeth Witmer how she was going to police bogus claims.
“Honestly, what we've seen in a couple of cases is that the narcotics program is one that is simply way too easy for them to attach themselves to,” Hunter said. “I think it needs to be audited.”Bob Hoffman, a spokesperson for injured workers at Resolute Forest Products in Thunder Bay says most workers would rather be back at work. (Jody Porter/CBC)
But a spokesperson for injured workers at Thunder Bay’s Resolute Forest Products said he disagrees with Hunter’s assessment.
“I didn't appreciate that too much at all,” Bob Hoffman said. “In fact that's totally untrue. We've seen, statistically, at least 99 per cent of workers would rather be at work.”
Witmer told business owners about her efforts to bring the organization’s finances into order and about plans to overhaul the entire claims system by 2016.
That was welcome news to Hunter, who said change is needed.
"What we've seen in the past few years is that workers are more comfortable being on claim,” he said. "They jump on claim and enjoy the ride.
“They're less responsible for work; they don't come with as much responsibility as they once did. People used to not want to be off work, now it's a comfortable situation for them.”
Thunder Bay WSIB clinic?
Witmer noted Thunder Bay could soon have its own clinic for injured workers. She said the city missed the last request for proposals from the province for new clinics, but she's heard from doctors in the area who say a WSIB clinic is needed in the northwest — and it’s an idea she supports.
“I will do whatever I can to make it possible when and if we see that proposal,” Witmer said.
“But it sounds to me like we're going to see it and it has the support of the hospital. So that's something that may happen in the not-too-distant future.”
Injured workers from the northwest are currently required by WSIB to travel to Toronto for treatment.
Witmer was in Thunder Bay Wednesday speaking to members of the Chamber of Commerce.
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