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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Injured workers seek faster compensation

. . . injured workers are falling into poverty. It's a breakdown of the whole system," . . .


- Before George Moore hurt his back, he said, he was making almost $900 a week working at Cashway Lumber.

But in 1995 Moore injured himself carrying drywall, he said, and had to leave work because of the injury.

"I've been fighting with the (Workers Safety and Insurance Board) for 11 years," Moore said, leaning on his cane outside Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal's constituency office.

At first he received full benefits, he said, but then his compensation was cut and he now receives $500 a month.

His wife works, he explained, so he's managed to stay afloat, but the decline in income has affected their lives drastically.

"I'm at the point now where I'm losing possessions," Moore said.

Moore was one of about 22 people who spoke to Leal yesterday about their concerns the needs of injured workers.

Occupational and Environmental Health coalition chairwoman Marian Burton said the WSIB isn't addressing the needs of injured workers. June 1 marks Injured and Ill Workers Day, Burton said, and it's time to think about all workers who are injured in jobs across Ontario.

"Unfortunately those stats aren't going down," Burton said.

Bills need to be created to address the needs and rights of injured workers, Burton said, and the McGuinty government promised to restore the cost of living.

But, Burton said, the province has failed to deliver on that promise and as a result injured workers are falling into poverty.

"It's a breakdown of the whole system," Burton said. "You can take a little from this pocket and a little from this pocket and hope to make ends meet."

Peterborough MPP Jeff Leal said the province is targeting an increase in payments over the next few years.

Leal said Peterborough would also benefit from a Worker's Advisory office.

There's one in Toronto and one in Ottawa, Leal said.

"That's far too great of a distance to provide adequate representation," Leal said.

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