Friday, October 06, 2006

Fair Practices Commission Annual Report Released

The Fair Practices Commission’s Annual Report for 2005-2006 has recently been released. The Commission has received 3,000 complaints in the two and a half years it has been operating. The Commission handles complaints individually, but looks for systemic issues to bring forward to the WSIB. The Commission is independent from the WSIB, with the commissioner reporting directly to the WSIB’s board of directors through the WSIB’s chair.

The report noted a number of systemic issues currently being addressed by the Commission with the WSIB We’ve highlighted some of the ones we think are more important to you . These are:

Managing Mail – mail and faxes were not being delivered to managers (and therefore not being acted on) and mail and faxes were lost and not scanned to file.

Standards for Specialist and Advisory Services – delays in initiating internal referrals to investigators, ergonomists and return-to-work mediators which, in turn, result in delays in adjudication.

Step-by-step Adjudication – delays in decision-making resulting from making referrals needed to make the decision in a step-by-step manner. For example, rather than initiating a referral to an investigator, an ergonomist and a medical consultant at the same time, the adjudicator does them one at a time and waits for the results from each specialist before making the referral to the next. This can cause unnecessary delays in the adjudication of the claim.

Expense Payment Processing – many workers complained to the Commission about delays in reimbursement for health care and travel expenses.

The Commission received 1,633 complaints for the reporting period April 1, 2005 to March 31, 2006. Workers accounted for 81% of the complaints. Employers and their representatives accounted for 5% of the complaints made and the remaining 5% came from various sources including WSIB staff who are injured workers, service providers, the commission’s own motion, anonymous, and other. A third of complaints were about adjudication and almost half were about benefits.

If you are experiencing delays or other systemic difficulties consider filing a complaint.