"It is part of the sad history of the WSIB that continues to this day, that the WSIB does not recognize huge chunks of the industrial cancers that kill many workers. . . . Canadian workplaces are consistently among the worst offenders for killing workers compared to most other industrialized countries. . . . And when we are seriously injured at the workplace the depraved indifference demonstrated to workers and families by the WCB's across Canada is unconscionable, unethical, unreasonable, unprincipled and outdated. So why do our pleas to stop this carnage fall on our governments deaf ears?
International Day of Mourning 2009
Another Day of Mourning has crept upon us and nothing has really changed since last year. In 2007, according to the latest report from the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada, 1,055 people lost their lives at work. That's four people every work day in the peaceful pursuit of a living. Dead because their workplace was not safe. Four people every day who did not come home again. Over the last decade, the number of Canadians who die every year because of workplace accident has been steadily growing. In 1998, the number stood at 809. In 2005, the number was 35.5% higher. Why is this being allowed to continue? Why are employers not being called to account?
Governments and Employers possess the knowledge and resources to eliminate workplace hazards. They know which workplace chemicals cause cancer. They know which workplace processes cause musculoskeletal injuries. Surely at this point in our development coming home alive and uninjured is a reasonable expectation. In Ontario for 2008, there were 317,031 reported claims to WSIB for injuries and occupational disease and 488 reported fatality claims in Ontario. That works out to 1.3 deaths per day in Ontario alone. As appalling as these numbers are, the real picture is even worse, given the numbers of occupational disease cases which go unreported and unrecognized by workers compensation.
The WSIB is reporting the recognized fatalities due to recognized fatal accidents and recognized fatalities due to industrial diseases. The workers health and safety center reports work-related deaths that are both recognized by the Board and unrecognized.The discrepancy mostly comes about due to workplace deaths and deaths due to industrial diseases that are not recognized by the Board as being compensable. Some of the discrepancies may come from death in non-covered employment. A few years ago a bank-teller in Brampton was killed during a bank robbery; because banks are not covered industries that accident was not a compensable death whereas it was definitely work-related. These would explain a small amount of the deaths The big discrepancy comes from the unrecognized industrial disease claims that result in death. It is part of the sad history of the WSIB that continues to this day, that the WSIB does not recognize huge chunks of the industrial cancers that kill many workers. If I have done my math right, the board has refused to recognize about 35% of the industrial disease claims. While this is a vast improvement from 20 years ago, the Board still has a long way to go.
Canadian workplaces are consistently among the worst offenders for killing workers compared to most other industrialized countries. Out of 29 countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Canada has the fifth highest incident rate of worker fatalities, trailing Korea, Mexico, Portugal and Turkey. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has ranked Canada fourth-worst in the world for violence in the workplace. And when we are seriously injured at the workplace the depraved indifference demonstrated to workers and families by the WCB's across Canada is unconscionable, unethical, unreasonable, unprincipled and outdated. So why do our pleas to stop this carnage fall on our governments deaf ears?
Nothing less than reform and an independent review to compel businesses and governments to admit they've drifted far away from WCB's original intent will do OR give us back the Right to Sue!
Mourn for the Dead, Fight for the Living and Justice for All. Our kids and family members, our co-workers, our friends and neighbours are depending on it!