June 1st – Injured Worker Day in Ontario

I Introduction

June 1 is Injured Workers Day. And for the first time in many years, anti-poverty activists see some hope with the passage of Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Act earlier this month. What do these two statements have to do with one another? Injured workers are an often overlooked, but vital part of the picture of poverty in Ontario.

II Background – Injured Workers Day

Injured Workers Day commemorates June 1, 1984 when over 3,000 injured workers and their families attended a government committee that was looking at replacing lifetime workers’ compensation pensions for those partially or permanently injured with a lump-sum payment for pain and suffering and a wage-loss system of payment. Outraged injured workers convinced the committee to shift their meeting from the committee room to the lawn at Queen’s Park for the first time in the history of the legislature. Equally important, the changes opposed by injured workers did not make their way into the legislation (though similar changes have been implemented since that time.) Injured workers, their families, and advocates have gathered on the lawn of the legislature every June 1 since. [1]

This year’s rally will focus on poverty among injured workers and the need for the community to do its own research. Just as anti-poverty activists are struggling to undo the damage done to social assistance during the Conservative government in the nineties, so injured workers are fighting to restore workers’ compensation as a viable income security system.

To see more of this report submitted by Bonita Heath, health promoter and PhD student in the Critical Disability Studies Program at York University, and Steve Mantis, an injured worker who has been active in law reform and social change in occupational health and safety and workers compensation for 30 years, visit: Ontario Health Promotion e-Bulletin

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