Canadian HR Reporter

April 18, 2016

Canadian HR Reporter is the national journal of human resource management. It features the latest workplace news, HR best practices, employment law commentary and tools and tips for employers to get the most out of their workforce.

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CANADIAN HR REPORTER April 18, 2016 NEWS 3 WSIB faces human rights complaint Follows call by others for further investigation of Ontario board's practices BY SABRINA NANJI A MIGRANT WORKER'S hu- man rights complaint against Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is yet an- other challenge facing the board in recent months. Farm worker Robert Sulph suffered life-threatening injuries when a malfunctioning saw sliced his neck and carotid artery. He was rushed to hospital and spent nearly a week in intensive care. When he returned to Jamaica, however, Sulph claims the WSIB did not provide a transition plan for his health care outside of the country, which it is legally re- quired to do. en, after having to give up treatment because of high costs, the WSIB closed his file in April 2015, said Sulph in his claim. "e WSIB doesn't care about us getting treatment or recovering from our injuries," he said. "It's not right that the WSIB treats migrant workers like our health doesn't matter. We are treated like we are disposable when we are no longer useful to Canada." On March 21, Sulph filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. e claim alleges the WSIB discriminated against him for being a migrant worker when it failed to provide a proper plan for treatment outside of the province. e WSIB knew Sulph was re- turning to Jamaica but failed to create a plan for his care, despite him being entitled to equitable coverage, said his lawyer, Jes- sica Ponting, a legal worker with the Industrial Accident Victims' Group of Ontario (IAVGO) Com- munity Legal Clinic. Sulph was having trouble re- ceiving the care he needed to re- cover and, as a result, his health has deteriorated and he is gener- ally unable to work, according to the complaint. Further, he claims he has fallen into poverty because of expensive medical bills. "The systemic prejudice the WSIB has against this group of black, disabled, non-citizen work- ers amounts to discrimination under the Ontario Human Rights Code," said Ponting. WSIB response As of press time, the WSIB had yet to receive Sulph's human rights complaint but it knew one had been filed. As such, the board said it would not comment on the case directly. However, the WSIB is commit- ted to treating all workers equally, said spokesperson Christine Arnott. "e WSIB has a long history of dealing with migrant work- ers and is committed to treating all workers, including migrant workers, with care, compassion and respect," she said. "Migrant workers who are injured on the job in Ontario are entitled to the same benefits and services as any worker in an Ontario workplace covered by the WSIB." at includes loss-of-earnings benefits, health care and return- to-work services. Migrant work- ers who are returning to their home country are entitled to an expedited medical assessment before they leave Ontario, in order to provide them with an understanding of their needs. In some cases, the WSIB will in- teract with local officials (such as a liaison office) to ensure the worker's needs are being met out-of-province. Under provincial law, the WSIB must pay full loss-of-earnings benefits until an injured worker has recovered sufficiently to re- turn to work. at applies wheth- er workers are in Canada or an- other country. Proposed rate framework changes — which will streamline and modernize the way claims are set for premium rates, and the way employers are classified — will have no impact on claims processes or benefit entitlement, said Arnott. In some cases, the WSIB also reimburses for transportation to and from medical treatment. Generally, the travel costs reim- bursed are commensurate with the cost of public transit. When public transit isn't available, alter- native modes of transportation might be reimbursed. Sulph's claim said he incurred hefty travel costs travelling for medical purposes because he lived in a rural part of Jamaica. Further investigation His human rights complaint fol- lows a call from the Ontario Fed- eration of Labour and doctors, workers and lawyers for the pro- vincial ombudsman to investigate the WSIB. The submission claims the board systematically ignores the advice of medical professionals for the purpose of rejecting and limiting otherwise legitimate in- jury claims. While Sylph's claim alleged "systemic" discrimination, the WSIB does not collect statistics on migrant worker claims specifi- cally as the system does not clas- sify claims in such a manner, said Arnott. But status as a migrant worker does not affect benefit en- titlement, she said. your career in focus When it comes to practicing human resources, membership matters. Only HRPA offers Certified Human Resources Professional, Leader, and Executive designations: the new global standard for HR excellence and professionalism. The CHRP, CHRL and CHRE designations demonstrate an HRPA member's commitment to their career and the success of their organization. P U T Y O U R C A R E E R I N F O C U S

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