Rally at MPPs office

From left, Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle speaks with Steve Mantis, treasurer of the Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group, and other protesters outside his office on Algoma Street on Thursday.

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board isn’t following doctors’ orders when it comes to employees with disabilities, says the Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group.

Less than 10 protesters, armed with signs, rallied outside of Thunder Bay-Superior North MPP Michael Gravelle’s office along Algoma Street on Thursday. The rally was intended to bring more awareness to a call for a public inquiry into how the WSIB handles medical care.

Steve Mantis, treasurer of the Thunder Bay and District Injured Workers Support Group, said the main issue is how WSIB overrules medical advice by physicians.

“There are 26 doctors who have come together in raising this issue and saying the same thing,” he said.

“They are saying the system is not working well. It is definitely a problem here in Thunder Bay. We do our regular peer support in person and over the telephone. We hear this all the time that the doctor is saying, ‘Look you got a disability that prevents you from doing that job,’ and the WSIB is saying, ‘No, no you can do that job. No problem.’ What we see from the statistics is a high rate of injury when people with a serious long-term injury go back to work, as high as 45 per cent.”

He said they have filed a report with the Ontario ombudsman, who is currently deciding if an investigation is warranted. Mantis said they want Gravelle to speak with the ombudsman and show his support for a review of WSIB.

Mantis said the system at the moment isn’t working and there needs to be a review on how disabilities are accommodated.

Gravelle, who met with the protesters outside his office, said there’s a dissatisfaction with the process and he plans on speaking with the minister of Labour.

“I had an opportunity to speak with the group today and learned a couple of things that I think are helpful in terms of me following up on this,” he said.

“One will be the request for a public inquiry is as strong as ever. I also learned that they had an opportunity to . . . meet with the president and CEO of the WSIB last week to discuss a number of issues. I want to be able to follow up with that meeting. They are going to send me a followup letter to communicate what parts of the meeting they were pleased with and parts of the meeting they felt wasn’t the response they were hoping for.”

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