Group wants province to extend worker benefits
Ontario is letting down millions of injured workers across the province, a group protesting outside Queen's Park said Wednesday.
Hundreds of people called on the province to include all workers in the province's Workers Compensation program.
Some 38 per cent of all Ontario workers — an estimated 2 million people — are not covered under the program, because their employers do not pay into it.
Under the plan, employers pay premiums for no-fault collective liability workplace insurance. Workers give up the right to sue as a result of their work-related injuries, in return for guaranteed compensation and benefits for accepted claims.
But the protestors are calling for changes to the province's labour code giving sickness and injury benefits to all workers — regardless of whom they work for.
"The country I was so proud to move into abandoned me and betrayed me and there was no support whatsoever," said school teacher Maryam Nazemi, who shattered her spine on the job eight years ago. "There are two million people out there like me … I wonder how many of them know."
The province has already introduced legislation giving construction workers mandatory coverage, but has stopped short of extending that coverage to all workers.
The rights of construction workers came to the forefront after four migrant workers fell 13 storeys to their deaths, and a fifth man was seriously injured, when the scaffolding platform from which they were working collapsed in December, 2009.
An independent review of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board is also ongoing, but the recommendations are not expected until at least the end of the year.
"We have to do more to protect, prevent, and in the end, provide," said Labour Minister Charles Sousa. "That's what we're going to do."
In the meantime, Nazemi is vowing to keep the fight alive.