Chronic mental stress update: IAVGO publishes the details on the 94% denial rate

Last week I published a post (Ontario: open for harassment) commenting on the revelation, in the Toronto Star, that during the first five months that the chronic mental stress the legislation was in effect, the WSIB denied 94% of CMS claims.

The Star article was based on information from an internal WSIB audit of adjudication under its chronic mental stress policy.

That internal audit was obtained by IAVGO Community Legal Clinic as part of a freedom of information request.

IAVGO has now made the WSIB’s full audit document available on its website, along with an excellent analysis of its contents, written by IAVGO lawyer Maryth Yachnin: “Adjudication of Chronic Mental Stress Injuries by the WSIB: A Farce, But We’re not Laughing.

The details of the audit are just as disturbing as the headline number of denials. As IAVGO explains, the audit shows that, in the great majority of cases, the WSIB is doing little, if any, investigation of circumstances that gave rise to the claim – or even gathering basic medical evidence.

Indeed, the details of the audit thoroughly justify IAVGO’s conclusion that:

“The WSIB is not treating chronic mental stress claims as real injuries. It is failing to do basic investigations, gather documents, or investigate complex workplace risk factors for mental health injuries. The result is the near-total exclusion of workers with mental stress injuries from health care, return to work and compensation support when they are hurt on the job.”

I encourage you to visit IAVGO’s website and read IAVGO’s analysis, and obtain a copy of the WSIB’s audit, for yourself!

Ontario: open for harassment

This week the Toronto Star revealed an internal WSIB audit showing that, in the first five months of the year, the WSIB denied 94% of claims for chronic mental stress.

That’s a bombshell revelation. Without urgent reform, the WSIB will turn a significant human rights victory for Ontario workers into a major step backward, leaving them more vulnerable than ever to harassment in the workplace. Continue reading

What’s the purpose of the entitlement presumption? There isn’t one, if we fail to tell the WSIAT about it.

Recently I revisited a WSIAT decision from last December whose interpretation of the “entitlement presumption”—a fundamental principle of workers’ compensation law—caused consternation among worker advocates when it was first released.

It’s a case that’s still worth discussing, not just because of the importance of the “entitlement presumption,” but also because we can draw a broader lesson about advocacy from it. Continue reading

The reward for paying down the WSIB’s unfunded liability? Permanent austerity, if you’re an injured worker.

With great fanfare (including breathless tweets) the WSIB announced it has eliminated its unfunded liability, ten years ahead of schedule.

But the fanfare didn’t end there. We also learned who would enjoy the dividend of full funding: employers, who received a massive reduction in premiums: 29.8% on average, amounting to almost $1.5 billion per year.

Our new Minister of Labour celebrated this cut as “just one part of our plan to lower taxes, reduce the regulatory burden, protect and grow jobs, and send a message to the world that Ontario is open for business.” For workers, she had nothing to offer but an anodyne assurance that “workers and their families” can now have “peace of mind” the WSIB will pay them the benefits they’re entitled to under the law.

That the Minister could so openly disregard workers and celebrate giving the entire dividend of full funding to employers is testament to the way employers have captured the narrative about the unfunded liability (UFL). Continue reading

Reminder: the deadline for filing 2014-2017 mental stress claims is July 1, 2018

Recently I blogged about the transition rules for the new mental stress provisions in the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

One of the transition rules allows workers who sustained a mental stress injury before January 1, 2018, to file a claim and have it adjudicated by the WSIB under the new mental stress provisions, provided that

  • You have not filed a mental stress claim before, and
  • Your injury occurred on or after April 29, 2014.

The limitation date for filing those claims is almost upon us: the deadline is July 1, 2018. Continue reading

A plain language guide to the mental stress transition rules

[Note: this is a slightly revised version of a paper I presented to the OBA Workers’ Compensation Section’s 2018 annual conference, A New Era in Workplace Safety and Insurance Law.]

In 2017, the Ontario government removed the bar against mental stress claims under the WSIA, replacing it with a new provision ex­press­ly allowing workers to claim benefits for mental stress injuries.

These amendments came into force on January 1, 2018, but they also have a limited retroactive effect. The government enacted a set of transition rules setting out how the WSIB and the WSIAT will deal with the claims and appeals of workers who suffered a mental stress injury before January 1, 2018.

The transition rules are written in dense technical prose. This post is an attempt to untangle them and explain them in plain language. Continue reading

The WSIB’s internal documents on adjudicating mental stress claims

We entered a new era in the compensation of work-related mental disorders on January 1st this year:

After less than five months of the new regime, I still don’t know a great deal about how the WSIB is applying these policies in practice.

To increase my understanding, in April I made a freedom of information request for all of the WSIB’s internal documents giving its decision-makers advice, guidance or direction about adjudicating claims under the new policies.

In May, the WSIB granted my request, and disclosed over 400 pages of documents.

I haven’t had time to go through the material in detail yet. When I do, I’ll  publish a post (or two) analyzing the most important documents.

However, I want to make the documents available immediately to any injured worker or advocate who may be interested in them. Therefore, I’ve bundled them into a .zip file which you can download by clicking this link. (Note: it’s a 19 MB file that downloads automatically.)

Enjoy responsibly!

This blog contains general information and should not be relied on as legal advice in an individual case. If you need advice about a WSIB claim or appeal, please visit the website of my law office, asingletonlaw.ca, and book a consultation.

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