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May 9, 2007

NEWS RELEASE - Canadian Injured Workers Society

The CIWS Congratulates Firefighters But Reinforces Presumptive Status For All Injured Workers

Saskatoon - The Canadian Injured Workers Society would like to congratulate firefighters in Ontario for the new Bill 221 passed in the Ontario legislature on Thursday May 3 giving firefighters presumptive status for certain occupational diseases.

"This win for firefighters is great news," says CIWS President, Beth McQuinn Nixon. "It will not only benefit firefighters but will also give hope to other workers with other occupational illnesses and diseases that are often overlooked by worker's compensation boards across Canada."

However, the CIWS is pointing out that firefighters should never have had to fight for this redundant legislation because the intent of the original WCB Act legislation in all provinces was that ALL workers should have immediate presumptive status regardless of their industry and that the burden of proving that the injury was NOT work related is the sole responsibility of the workers compensation board.

Presumptive status for all injured workers was an original part of the 'Historic Compromise' about 100 years ago, when workers gave up their right to sue companies for damages in exchange for immediate and fair wage loss compensation. Workers agreed to the 'Compromise' with the understanding that they would always have the 'benefit of the doubt' or 'presumption' in any dispute with the workers compensation board regarding whether the injury or disease was work related.

Unfortunately, this 'presumption' is not always followed by workers compensation boards and workers routinely find themselves forced into bearing the burden of proof against a well-funded adversarial bureaucracy.

Now, 'presumptive status' is being granted to certain groups - ignoring the fact that it should already be guaranteed for all workers.

Sections 13-2, and 15-3 and 4 of the Ontario Act lay out presumptive status referring to Schedules 3 and 4. It seems Schedules 3 and 4 attempt to limit that presumptive status falling short of the intent of the original Historic Compromise.

The CIWS believes that any worker who suffers financial hardships due to workplace injury, illness or disease should be compensated fairly.

The Canadian Injured Workers Society is a non-profit organization committed to promoting fair compensation for injured workers across Canada. For more information, please contact: [email protected] or 506-432-9115. The society's web page is http://www.ciws.ca


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