On January 25th the Ministry of Labour announced a review of occupational cancer to help ensure that best practices and the most up-to-date information are considered with respect to compensation. Dr. Paul Demers through Cancer Care Ontario was appointed to lead the review and report back to the Ministry of Labour by the end of the year. The Ministry’s release states the following,

“The review will address and provide recommendations on three basic questions:
How can scientific evidence best be used in determining whether a cancer is work related, particularly in cases of multiple exposures?
Are there any best practices in other jurisdictions that Ontario should consider adopting?
As scientific evidence evolves around occupational cancer, what criteria should the Ministry of Labour consider in developing legislative policy?

The review and recommendations will also help the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) with important advice as it reviews occupational disease claims.”
However, before he has even begun this assignment, in an interview with the Kitchener Waterloo Record, Dr Demers has shown an anti-WSIB bias and a misunderstanding of how the province’s workers compensation system functions.

The WSIB is far from perfect, it has been a work-in-progress from the time it was founded and it will ever be so. That’s just the nature of workers compensation. But there are few organizations in this province that have been more studied and reviewed and more called upon to adapt and change than the WSIB.

On July 1, 2018 the WSIB adopted a new service delivery model. About a year ago it expanded coverage to include chronic mental stress and about three years ago certain presumptive coverages for first responders were added to the benefits program. It continues to adopt new technology to serve stakeholders better and improve administrative efficiencies. And it is about to introduce a new employer classification system, rate setting process and experience rating program on January 1, 2020. The WSIB is not afraid to change and it is not the system it was even five years ago.

The WSIB provides benefits to workers who become ill or are injured as a result of their work. Injuries and illnesses from causes beyond the workplace do not qualify for benefits. For multi-factorial diseases like cancer, it is very challenging to determine work-relatedness. We hope that Dr Demers can put his personal biases aside, can open his mind, learn what the WSIB does well and where it falls short and develops recommendations that will contribute to the improvement of Ontario’s workers compensation system for the benefit of workers and employers.

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