Hidden treasure: the Ontario Workplace Tribunals Library

Recently I came across a flyer advertising the OWTL’s services, and it reminded me how few injured workers I meet know about the library—even though it’s a tremendous resource for self-represented workers and professional advocates alike. So I’ve taken it upon myself to do a bit of unsolicited promotional work for the library in this blog.

There are two things that make the OWTL a treasure.

The first is its collection, both of paper and electronic books and documents. They have a wide range of legal textbooks on workplace issues, which are helpful for getting a general understanding of the law that’s relevant to your case. They also have a comprehensive collection of all the past workers’ comp legislation and—perhaps most importantly—of all the historical versions of WSIB policies. As the WSIB doesn’t make previous versions of its policies available, the library is my go-to place to ensure that I know exactly what rules the WSIB is supposed to apply in an older case. And they have much, much more…

The second is the librarians. In my experience, they are unfailingly courteous, knowledgeable and helpful. The flyer lists the services they provide:

  • Answer reference questions by phone, email, or in person
  • Provide research advice
  • Scan and email materials to you (copyright allowing).

The librarians are not allowed to give legal advice, but they do help with basic legal research (the flyer gives an example of the kind of question they will help to answer “Are there any WSIAT decisions that grant entitlement to LOE during a recurrence when the injured worker is unemployed?”). That’s a fantastic resource for self-represented injured workers preparing for their own appeals. Knowing about a few relevant decisions can make the difference between winning and losing your appeal.

The library is located behind the WSIAT’s reception area, on the seventh floor of 505 University Avenue, Toronto. I like visiting the library in person, because it’s quiet, calm and full of useful books, and there are desks that provide a space to sit and work in peace.

But you don’t need to go to the library to make use of its services. Now that I’m really busy, I mostly get help by making telephone and email inquiries, and I always get a quick and helpful response.

No doubt the library is an important internal resource for the staff of the OLRB and the WSIAT, to which it is formally attached. But to me, the library’s greatest value is the service it provides to the public. Unfortunately, in the age of austerity services like this only tend to last if they’re well used. So, injured workers, make the most of your OWTL! Here are its coordinates:

Library Reference Desk: (416) 314-3700
E-mail: owtl@wst.gov.on.ca
Fax Number: (416) 326-5164
TTY: (416) 314-1787 (For all of WSIAT, including Library)

Website: http://owtlibrary.on.ca/english/index.htm

Address:
The Ontario Workplace Tribunals Library (OWTL)
505 University Ave., 7th Floor,
Toronto, ON M5G 2P2

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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