The number of compensable injuries in Canada, nearly one million Canadians per year from coast to coast to coast, makes Canadians sadly aware of the pain and suffering workers endure as a result of workplace injuries. Unfortunately, far too many workers are not receiving the care and services that workers compensation was designed to provide.
There are discrepancies among the provinces and territories. Worse yet, Workers' Compensation Boards are continuously bowing to corporate pressure to make changes that are not beneficial to workers.
However, the challenges faced by injured workers are becoming more numerous. The current economic crisis, for many injured workers, has created yet another hardship on top of the daily battles they have been waging to survive. Injured workers are facing the disrespectful argument that they should have less than full justice because there is an economic crisis.
Workers and injured workers did not bring about the economic crisis. Workers' compensation was created to be a system of justice in good and bad economic times. Employers are protected from lawsuits in good economic times and bad. Injured workers must be protected from poverty at all times as well.
The Canadian Labour Congress is calling for changes and supporting efforts to have workers' compensation improved across Canada. The CLC and many of our affiliates and labour councils have been working with the Canadian Injured Workers Alliance (CIWA) for a number of years to raise awareness of the problems and serious difficulties thousands of injured workers face on a daily basis.
Workers do not go to work to be disabled or killed on the job.
Today, in honour of the Injured Workers' Day, and every day on behalf of injured workers across the country, the Canadian Labour Congress calls on all provinces and territories to work with injured workers, labour and employers to improve their workers' compensation systems.
Governments must ensure that changes to workers' compensation include the following elements:
1.Dignity, respect and justice must be the foundation for a renewed workers' compensation system;
2.Every province and territory must ensure their workers' compensation act complies with its stated purposes, to truly assist and compensate all workers injured, made sick and disabled at work;
3.Each province and territory must have an act that has a clear focus to assist workers with a permanent disability;
4.Injured workers deserve a pension for life if workplace injuries result in a disability for life;
5.Injured workers deserve a full cost of living protection; and
6.Injured workers need real jobs and job security or full compensation.
The CLC is calling on our affiliates, federations of labour and labour councils to work hand in hand with injured workers' groups across Canada on June 1st and throughout the year to pressure governments in Canada to change workers' compensation where it has been clearly demonstrated that injured workers and their families are not being treated with the dignity and respect they are entitled.
There a number of steps which can and should be taken:
1.Invite the local injured workers' group to join your local labour council;
2.On a yearly basis, develop an action plan on activities you will undertake together with the local injured workers' group;
3.Invite activists with the injured workers' group to participate in union training sessions and union days of action;
4.Provide a space where injured workers can meet one another, even if just over a cup of coffee;
5.Provide support and services to your local injured workers' group, even something as simple as photocopy services;
6.Encourage your WCB and health and safety activists to join the injured workers' group to help with mentoring and strengthening community solidarity.
The road to justice for injured workers still stretches far ahead, but working together, we can demand a better workers' compensation system, one that puts the needs of injured workers first and treats them with the dignity, respect and justice that everyone of us deserve.