Tuesday, March 12, 2019


The front page article in today's Waterloo Region record is titled, "Mixed messages on WSIB review." Recently a Kitchener widow of a deceased rubber worker was advised by a WSIB employee that not all cases of more than 300 already denied will be reviewed. This of course is in contradiction to what the WSIB said just last week that WSIAT (Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal) cases that had been turned down would be included in the overall review by the WSIB. The widow, Gayle Wannan, is skeptical that the WSIB is genuinely interested in applying the latest evidence when taking another look at rubber workers' claims. Personally I'm skeptical that "new" evidence is needed or whether it even exists. There has been overwhelming evidence of cancer clusters in the rubber industry for decades and longer. This has always been all about protecting employers from lawsuits and reducing the liability of governments to pay disability pensions and death benefits caused by occupational diseases.

The WSIAT rarely grants reconsiderations for the simple reason they don't have to. Again I believe their mandate is more financial than either humanitarian or honestly insurance based. Citizens are allowed to ask Ontario's Superior Court of Justice for a judicial review of a WSIAT decision. That is incredibly slow and incredibly expensive. After all judges and lawyers need to maintain their lifestyle while pretending to have empathy for factory workers in the local rubber plants. Yes Dorothy, class differences are alive and well in Canada.

I expect that perhaps half of the affected workers and their families will eventually receive some compensation for the premature deaths and illnesses of their loved ones. This will have exactly nothing to do with the so called "evidence" and everything to do with past Liberal and Conservative governments saving face. The provincial government controls the WSIB and WSIAT and party affiliations between Ontario's two governing parties make little difference in the ongoing exploitation of citizens by those with power and money.

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