Thursday, June 30, 2005

Just as a number of changes were being proposed by the Minister of Labour which should improve the Workplace Safety and Insurance system the Premier DALTON MCGUINTY
shuffles cabinet and appoints Mr. Steve Peters as the New Minister of Labour.

His biography is below:

Mr. Peters was elected to the Ontario legislature in 1999.

Born in St. Thomas in 1963 to Joan and Percy Peters, both children of Ukrainian immigrants, Mr. Peters is proud of his heritage.

Mr. Peters is a graduate of Arthur Voaden Secondary School in St. Thomas and the University of Western Ontario, where he earned a bachelor of arts, majoring in history.

When Mr. Peters was first elected to St. Thomas Council as an alderman in 1988, he was employed as a stock clerk at a downtown A&P store. Mr. Peters was still working at A&P when he was elected to his first term as mayor of St. Thomas in 1991.

His election win attracted national news coverage, as he was Canada’s youngest mayor at the time. Mr. Peters was re-elected mayor with massive majorities in both 1994 and 1997. As mayor, Mr. Peters served on all city committees and many outside boards and agencies.

Mr. Peters was appointed as the disabilities critic in June of that year and moved to the agriculture portfolio in September 2000.

When not hard at work for his constituents, Mr. Peters enjoys gardening and pursuing his other passion, local history. Mr. Peters is considered one of the foremost experts on Elgin County history and is a collector of Elgin memorabilia, notably items associated with Jumbo, the giant circus elephant that was struck and killed by a train in St. Thomas in 1885.

It was only at the beginning of this month that Mr. Bentley announced firm deadlines for Next Steps in Workplace Safety. These steps included recommendation in Return to work/Labour Marker Re-entry, faster decsion making, independence for workers with regard to payment options and simplification fo the forms and rules.

For those who have been waiting for their decisions while suffering from their injuries and the serious financial impact of the delays I hope that Mr. Peters will continue on this course quickly.

CPP Offsets and Loss of Earnings

If you are in receipt of Canada Pension Benefits and Workplace Safety and Insurance Benefits there are new policies which affect you. Currently, the Board offsets 100% of CPP benefits received by the worker or their survivor for the work related injury. This has been the approach for individuals who receive either 100% loss of earnings benefits from the Board or partial loss of earnings benefits from the Board. Often times those who were granted partial benefits from the Board and also were receiving CPP benefits would not be paid any compensation because of the offset. This was certainly not fair.

The Board has now adopted a new formula so that the portion of the CPP benefits which exceeds the deemed earnings amount will be added to worker's post injury earnings. While the Board will continue to deduct 100% of CPP benefits which relate to the compensable injury from individuals who receive 100% benefits the new rules for those who have been deemed by the Board to have some earning capacity should be fairer.

Monday, February 21, 2005


Have you been denied WSIB benefits? Keep reading to learn how you can Win WSIB APPEALS. The following information will guide workers in dealing with the WSIB and win their WSIB appeals.

If you do not agree with the WSIB’s decision, you do have the right to appeal WSIB decisions. But keep in mind that there are time limits to appealing a decision. The majority of decisions are subject to a 6 month time limit but those involving Labour Market Reentry Programs or retraining must be filed within 30 days. The appeals must be in writing and be sure to put the date at the top of the letter with your return address. A short letter will suffice. Often times long appeal letters are confusing and not completely read. In addition, if you are angry, you may end up saying something you may regret or could damage your case. You should identify the issue you are appealing, for example - initial entitlement, ability to work, Non economic loss award and the date of the adjudicator’s decision. You should also request a full copy of your claim file. Keep a copy of the letter for your records.

The next step is to review the entire file. Every WSIB claim or appeal requires good preparation and presentation. Often times the medical evidence is key. The questions you should ask yourself include:

1. Is there medical evidence that deals with the causation of the disability? Is the evidence convincing or does it use words like "may be caused", "could be caused by" or simply does not comment on the cause of the injury?

2. Does the medical evidence identify a diagnosis? Are there conflicting opinions about the diagnosis?

3. Is there evidence that the medical problems have been continuous or are
there gaps? Make sure that all specialist reports, physiotherapy, chiropractic and family doctor records are in the file. Dates of every health care visit relating to the claim should be recorded and in the file.

4. Does the medical evidence explain or show that you did not have prior problems with preexisting conditions?

5. Do the medical reports agree about the facts of the disability?

6. Is the medical evidence based on subjective or objective findings? Decision makers prefer an opinion of a specialist to a generalist. They also prefer to see indications in the report the physician examined the worker thoroughly and contains more substantial evidence of objective signs in support of its opinion. Therefore a note with states "back pain, unable to work, will reassess in 3 weeks" will normally be given little or no weight.

Get better medical evidence if you need it. Remember quality counts, not quantity.

The next step is to identify any other missing evidence. Think of the best source you have to prove your point- a witness, a document, a photograph, or a diagram. If the issue is the type of work you were performing maybe the union or the company has a job description or physical demands analysis.

Once you’ve assessed the evidence, consider your theory. Think of the central point of your case. "Keep it simple stupid" (KISS) is a rule that I always go back to it helps to focus on theory. If you provide too much information this may only confuse the decision maker. Remember your job at the hearing is to prove your theory. Do you have all the facts or evidence necessary to convince the listener of your point of view? If not you still have some work to do.

The presentation of your case at the hearing is also important. Never assume that essential facts are understood. State them and know what you are going to say ahead of time. Stick to your theory and prepare a road map. Take the decision maker thru a logically developed presentation from beginning to end. Often times a short focused presentation is more effective that spending hours going thru the information. Remember the decision maker has read the file.

Going thru these simple steps will ensure that the issue is stated, the facts are established, and that your reasons are explained. If you follow these steps it help you win WSIB appeals.