As Canadians pay tribute to those killed or injured on the job, the Ontario Federation of Labour has come out swinging against the provincial workers’ compensation system, alleging 1,150 deaths went underreported.
On April 28, the National Day of Mourning for workers, the OFL accused the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) of covering up 1,150 fatalities over the past nine years.
The OFL’s claims comes days after the WSIB released a revised version of its statistical quarterly report, which the OFL said only demonstrates that a total of 2,225 workers had died between 2004 and 2012, when in reality the number was closer to 3,375.
“When you cross-reference recently released WSIB data, it would appear that the agency tasked with compensating workplace victims is trying to erase 1,150 fallen workers out of existence,” said Sid Ryan, president of the OFL. “This is absolutely disgraceful behaviour from a public agency and it is an insult to the families of all the workers who have died tragically due to work-related accidents or illnesses.”
Previously, Ryan said the WSIB maintained consistency in its data through its “Monthly Monitor” reports, and now, changes to definitions and modernization of data-gathering methods have effectively swept some fatalities under the rug.
“Every one of the 1,150 fallen workers who have been scrubbed from the WSIB spreadsheets is a real person with a real spouse, real children, real friends and real colleagues,” Ryan said.
At the end of last year, the WSIB reported a 36 per cent rise in occupational deaths over the past five years.
“We need a WSIB that is committed to ending the carnage in the workplace, not whitewashing the annual death toll,” Ryan added. “Before workplace deaths and injuries can be prevented, there must be greater accountability and transparency in reporting. Too many lives hang in the balance.”
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