WSIB Facing Major Spike in Complaints; Grievances Sent to Watchdog Up By About 120 in 2015/16 Compared to Previous Period

Sara Mojtehedzadeh
The Toronto Star , July 23, 2016

The number of complaints made to the provincial watchdog about Ontario’s worker compensation system has jumped by almost 20 per cent over the past year, the Star has learned. Nearly 600 complaints were made to the ombudsman about the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) between last April and March of this year, according to statistics requested by the Star – a spike from 2014/15, when the watchdog received about 480 grievances about the board. A further 141 complaints have been lodged in the past three-and-a-half-months.

The increase comes as doctors, labour groups and injured-worker advocates call for a formal investigation into the WSIB, alleging that “systematic disregard” for medical advice given by accident victims’ own doctors. That, critics say, often leads to workers being unfairly kicked off benefits.

“I feel like it’s a pretty strong indication to the ombudsman that external intervention is needed,” said Aidan MacDonald, of the Injured Workers’ Consultants Community Legal Clinic.

“People don’t seem to be able to trust the WSIB to fix its own problems, so I think this does support our request that a full investigation by the ombudsman is necessary to hold the WSIB accountable for its systemic injustices.”

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the board said it was “misleading” to suggest there had been a significant increase in complaints, because the number in 2014/15 dipped somewhat compared with previous years. From 2011 to 2013, an average of 580 WSIB complaints were lodged with the ombudsman.

“We track the numbers of complaints received by the ombudsman and treat them very seriously. The number of complaints has remained relatively constant over the past five years,” the statement said, adding that the number of grievances made to the board’s internal Fair Practices Commission declined over the past five years.

Linda Williamson, a spokeswoman for the provincial ombudsman, said she could not comment on whether the recent increase in complaints would affect the organization’s decision to investigate, which has yet to be finalized. “Generally speaking, although complaint volume can be a consideration, it is just one of many factors the ombudsman reviews in deciding whether or not to launch an investigation,” she said.

“WSIB has consistently been among the top five or top 10 most complained-about provincial government organizations over the past several years.”

Last year, the WSIB received the fourth-highest number of complaints of any provincial government organization. Williamson said she did not know how the board currently ranks, as the figures would be released in the watchdog’s annual report this fall.

In an ongoing investigation into board practices, the Star has detailed allegations of unfair – and even unlawful – cost-cutting measures that critics say came at the expense of some of the province’s most vulnerable workers. These include the use of so-called paper doctors, who review injured workers’ files without ever examining them in person, and wrongly attributing accident victims’ symptoms to “pre-existing conditions” so as to reduce compensation.

The number of complaints against the board’s independent appeals tribunal has also increased since last year, from 99 complaints to 128 – a 23-per-cent increase. As previously reported by the Star, the tribunal has been an important avenue for workers to challenge board decisions, but has been hampered by massive backlogs.

“Injured workers are just being cut off benefits,” Macdonald said. “They’re being denied treatment that they need, they’re being denied
medication that they need.”

Injured workers by the numbers WSIB complaints at provincial ombudsman’s office:
2015/16: 595
2014/15: 481
2013/14: 552
2012/13: 609
2011/12: 582
Complaints at WSIB’s internal ombudsman:
2015: 1,627
2014: 1,875
2013: 1,924
2012: 2,523
2011: 2,567

9 thoughts on “WSIB Facing Major Spike in Complaints; Grievances Sent to Watchdog Up By About 120 in 2015/16 Compared to Previous Period

  1. What a corrupt and cold organization. I injured my back pulling a 350lb patient over and strained my back at work. i should have just went home and said my back hurts. I didn’t know wsib would deny loss of wages plus I had a physio booked after 1 appointment was cancelled any health benefits. I am feeling for the others with their stories. How does this happen, is it not 2023? I was on high doses of medication that made me impaired to even drive yet take care of sick patients in an ICU? They said I refused modified work offered? What the hell can I do lying down on a heat pad at work impaired? Very stressful!

  2. Since 2000 I have had 15 back injuries at work, I crushed my left foot almost list it, and now I blew my right knee last September, I had to get a lawyer to go after Wsib, with no money, they accepted the I jury. But denied everything else, cost me a fortune for a knee brace, to get back to work, the company has me do jobs against my restrictions, causing more I jury u till my blood pressure landed me I. Hospital, then cut me off for no reason, I was fired after 21 years if service because the company would not accommodate me, I requested a nell 2 years ago and nothing, now unemployed I requested another for my knee, well covid and call all these people that are gonna tell me to pond salt.

  3. June 2015 I was injured in the workplace. I discovered medical records altered, missing and false information added. I’ve laid a number of complaints and continue to battle with both Ontario board and the Yukon board. Its become dangerous and I will detail why. A return to partner in Yukon, I found a new physician. The issue, missing medical records and an incomplete medical history of treatment and conditions. I was taken off ALL the medications my body was used too, and that were proven to decrease symptoms most of the time. It didn’t matter to new Doctor. Over time I’ve declined in function and feel exhausted and overwhelmed by episodes of extreme pain. I’ve now developed stomach issues, and bowel problems which are serious. Long ago I tried NAPROXIN for pain. It took a toll on my stomach. Told Doctor, nothing changed. On two other medications not helping at all. In the beginning I felt a small difference yet it faded and disappeared. Without my PROPER MEDICAL HISTORY it becomes dangerous to me as a patient. Injured Workers pay the ultimate price for the benefit of Corporate Greed. We are not being heard and it’s become very dangerous.

  4. I sustained a leg and knee injury during work, I’ve been receiving treatment which has not been working. I decided to try PRP treatment to my knee out of my own pocket after WSIB denied my claim for PRP. The leg and knee treatment has now caused issues to my lower back and cannot get in contact with my case manager in WSIB.
    I wanted a second opinion after the WSIB doctor stated there’s nothing wrong with my knee and indicated I should see a pain specialist to help me cope with the pain.
    This has become demoralizing !

  5. I am self employed Drywall Taper. I was told today by my adjudicator who made the decision to deny my claim. Reason of course ” preexisting condition”. In my case degenerative disc disease. Four cervical vertebrae are causing problems pinching a nerve. 35% or more of my work is shoulder level and overhead. 20 years full time and this adjudicator who admits she has no medical background decides she knows more than the actual Doctors who all say it is work related.
    I truly believe they do this so you are forced to appeal and hope you just give up. I am forced to pay 7% of my gross income to these crooks who care nothing of the people they are being paid to protect. My case is not a severe as many who have had their lives destroyed by this branch of the Government. Maybe Doug Ford who says he is for the people can address this important issue and protect Ontario’s worker instead of shaking us down.

    1. Omg I going through a issue .i had a reoccurance of injury ,significant deterioration of injury required surgery .all medical supports to injury and reoccurance of injury .now in physio and strength training .wsib cut my benifits saying not reoccurance .my physio supports my claim ,my they say I have a job I don’t even have .
      This causing me so much stress and anxiety .i understand others who have issues.wsib are crooks I believe

  6. Was injured in November 2017, still haven’t received any cheques for loss of earnings.. Have called back 3-4 times to which they claim my unit number was not on file.. have given it to them on 3 separate occasions.

  7. As an employer I am disgusted by the abuse this organization is legally allowed to get away with. I have 4 employees on payroll and my monthly invoice towards the WSIB is no less than $1,000.00 with an annual interest rate of 6.75% monthly 0.5625%. This organization collects thousands upon thousands of dollars, from all types of businesses. When it comes time to pay out to unforeseen accidents, they cheap out and try to cut corners.
    Thereby, leaving injured employees out in the cold.
    I believe in this day and age people are too busy and stressed out with life and have no time to fight these mafia organizations, and those so called professionals that support their poor business practice.
    of which they are very much aware of.
    My advice is, if you are injured at work, fight as hard as you are legally entitle to, because the WSIB is making good money, at the expense of the hard working Canadian entrepreneur.
    My business insurance is half what I pay the WSIB each month, and they do not take the liberty to “calculate,” ahead of time to charge me whatever they want towards the next month’s invoice.
    Such corruption at its finest!

  8. I was injured in a work related accident and injured my back and had hairline fracture in my rt. hand in 2013 and was off work for 7 months. The WSIB was forcing me to resume work just 3 days after my accident against 3 doctors reconnections that I was incapable of working. WSIB then sent me to their doctor at North York General Hospital. He made me bend when I couldn’t he forced me by pushing me down further until my hand touch the ground. I was in such pain that I could not walk and my daughter had to help me. This doctor then informed WSIB that I could return to work. WSIB then told me that they were not going to pay me. I had to take this case to arbitration through my Union. I return to work after 7 month. Since then I had a number of accidents but didn’t take off the WSIB’s attitude towards injured workers. This has made my pain worsen. I am on pain killers twice a day to cope with the pain. Then I was involved in an accident in August and this time I stayed away from work for two weeks and WSIB has again refused to pay. The reason I have so many accidents is because of MTO resolution that anyone coming to Ontario whether they are on tourist or student visas can go for a G licence test which involves highway component as soon as they pass their knowledge test and the have a driving experience of 2 years in their country of origin. They do not need to wait and get experience in driving in Ontario. Some of these so called experience drivers have no basic concept of driving. This makes one wonder how did they get a driver’s licence and experience certificate in the country of their origin.

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