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“We want Ontario workplaces to be the safest in the world – one injury or illness is too many” – Christine Arnott, Public Affairs Manager WSIB

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It’s not in anyone’s plans…but it can happen easily, especially when your job involves risks. A work-related accident or illness is more common that you might think. To illustrate this, as of August 30, in 2022 there were more than 88,105 allowed claims, according to Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) a provincial agency that provides wage-loss benefits, medical coverage and support to help people get back to work after a work-related injury or illness. This kind of support is essential in a delicate time of any employee’s life, after you got hurt or discovered an illness, that’s why the agency says it tries it best to be as quick as possible in delivering the claims, and 93% of their decisions are made within 10 business days.

According to the numbers Christine Arnott, Public Affairs Manager with WSIB, presented us, in recent years the most common claims the agency received are for sprains and strains, bruises, contusions and for Covid-19. She points out that recently health care settings such as hospitals, and nursing and residential care homes have seen the largest volume of injuries overall. Arnott also clarifies what people should do when a workplace injury or illness occurs, and highlights that they offer communication with those in need in their preferred language, including Portuguese. She also says regardless of immigration status, all people employed by a business that is covered by the WSIB are eligible for benefits and services for allowed claims.

Milénio Stadium: What is the role of WSIB and who pays for it?
Christine Arnott: The WSIB is here to help after someone experiences a work-related injury or illness. Funded by premiums paid by Ontario businesses, we cover almost 5.3 million Ontarians and handle over 250,000 new claims every year. Our website – wsib.ca – outlines what people should do when a workplace injury or illness occurs. People may be eligible for numerous benefits including wage-loss benefits, medical coverage, and support to help them recover and get back to work. We also encourage anyone to contact us directly at 1-800-387-0750 if they need assistance. One of the ways we try to help is by communicating with people in their preferred language. We provide translation and interpretation services in over 160 different languages, including Portuguese.

MS: How long does it take for WSIB to decide on a claim?
C.A: We make claims decisions as quickly as possible so we can get people the help they need. The time to make a decision varies depending on the individual circumstances of the claim. Currently, 93% of decisions are made within 10 business days.

MS: Why would WSIB deny claims?
C.A: Each case is different and reviewed based on its own merits. If someone is injured or becomes ill at work, we encourage them to file a claim to see if they are eligible for benefits. They don’t have to worry if they’re not sure that their injury or illness resulted from their work. That’s our job. It’s always the WSIB’s responsibility to gather all of the relevant information from the claimant, employer, and health-care provider to determine whether someone’s injury or illness is work-related and if they are eligible for benefits.

MS: What are the most common causes of work-related injuries and the most affected industries?
C.A: People can find detailed health and safety stats on our website as well as check the safety record of any company registered with us. The most common claims we’ve received over the past few years are for sprains and strains, bruises and contusions, and also COVID-19. While these types of injury or illness cross all industries, recently health care settings such as hospitals and nursing and residential care homes have seen the largest volume of injuries overall.

MS: What is the most recent number of people who get injured at work in Ontario? Throughout the years are these numbers going up or down?
C.A: We want Ontario workplaces to be the safest in the world – one injury or illness is too many. Part of working together to reduce injuries is being transparent with our data. On our website, anyone can look up health and safety statistics including the year. The stats show the following total allowed claims by injury/illness year: 2022 (as of Aug 30): 88,105; in 2021: 171,931; in 2020: 155,018; in 2019: 201,001 and in 2018: 201,938

MS: In most of the cases you analyze the work accidents are due to company’s or employee’s negligence?
C.A: Our workplace injury and illness insurance is no-fault, so we do not assign blame. The WSIB is here to help and wants everyone to receive the benefits and services they are entitled to, so they can have a safe, timely and lasting return to work.

MS: What are the relations between WSIB and the unions?
C.A: The WSIB works with health and safety associations, industry groups and union partners to improve safety in Ontario workplaces. On individual claims we work closely with all parties involved, including unions as applicable, to provide help and support to someone who has been injured or become ill and their families.

MS: Does WSIB have equal benefits for migrant workers in Ontario? If a person, a migrant, is working illegally here, does he have any rights in case he gets injured?
C.A: Foreign agricultural workers who are injured or become ill (including contracting COVID-19) on the job in Ontario are eligible for WSIB benefits and services for allowed claims. Similarly, regardless of immigration status, all people employed by a business that is covered by the WSIB are eligible for benefits and services for allowed claims.

Lizandra Ongaratto/MS

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