Injured Windsor workers call for changes to WSIB compensation program

A Workers' Comp is a Right campaign event in Windsor Wednesday was meant to send a message to the government that the current compensation program needs to be reevaluated.

Government needs to take doctor's recommendations more seriously, says group

Shannon DeWit said she was injured twice while working for Chrysler in Windsor. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

Shannon DeWit has no car insurance, no phone and no internet. What she does have is the back of a 56-year-old man.

The Windsor woman said she was working as a custodian for Chrysler in Windsor when she was injured twice — the first time while on a jitney (a small forklift) and the second time while moving some boxes up stairs.

Now the 35-year-old has a degenerative disc disease her doctor says gives her the back pain of a much older man and has kept her from work.

DeWit's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board claims were initially approved, but she said the organization has since rejected her benefits claim because they believe the conditions are pre-existing. As a result, she was pushed into poverty last year.

I'm at the food bank, I'm begging family and friends, anyone who can help.- Shannon DeWit

"I've been struggling since the second injury to just get better," she said. "It was March 2016 [when] I was put off work indefinitely." 

DeWit said she received a lump sum payout from her insurance company, but "was broke by my birthday."

Now she's living off unemployment and donated food.

"I'm at the food bank, I'm begging family and friends, anyone who can help," she said. "That killed me. I didn't want to do it."

Details of DeWit's story are shared by thousands of injured workers across the province, according to Windsor District Labour Council president Brian Hogan, who spoke at a Workers' Comp is a Right campaign event in Windsor Wednesday.

The event, organized by injured workers support group facilitator Mike Jee was meant to send a message to the government that the current compensation program needs to be reevaluated.

Mike Jee said the Workers’ Comp is a Right campaign is about improving the WSIB claims process. (Meg Roberts/CBC)

The campaign is focused on three main points, according to Jee.

  • They want to the WSIB to stop denying benefits based on pre-existing conditions

  • They want doctor's opinions to matter more

  • They want the WSIB to stop assigning injured workers jobs that may not exist

"The campaign is to raise awareness of the injustices being faced by workers currently," Jee added.

DeWit was scheduled to meet with the WSIB Wednesday afternoon and said she's hopeful the government will understand how critically her injuries have impacted her life.

 "You don't know if you can walk, you don't know if you can hang out with your friends and party," she said. "You don't even know if you can go grocery shopping."