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.