Saturday, November 27, 2010

WSIB New Work Reintegration Program

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board  (WSIB) has introduced its draft policies for consultation on the new work reintegration program.  In response to criticism of the current Return to work and Labour Market reentry program  the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board has attempted to amalgamate the policies and focus on returning workers to safe, sustainable jobs and ensuring quality training, more aggressive cost containment and increased accountability.  It is no secret that the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board is trying to save costs and this is certainly evidenced in the draft policies.  The preferred and first choice will be to return to the worker to the accident employer.  This of course can and has been fraught with difficulty for many injured workers.  Employer/employee relationships are anything but perfect and while this may be an excellent option in the case of large employers with excellent modified work programs, mid size and small employers cannot be expected to hold or create employment   Disputes will continue to occur and although a WSIB staff specifically assigned to act in the new Work Reintegration role will be available, the age old modified work problems do not seem to be addressed in the new recommendations.  The issues of returning workers back to work too early, whether the work is appropriate given the worker's medication intake or pain experiences or the termination of a worker after the NEER window is closed are still ongoing issues.

The Board has attempted to address the Labour Market Reentry issues relating to credible educational institutions, job search leads, and the choice of program. These are all welcome changes.  In recent years, there has been difficulty in determining whether a goal is available.  With the case manager providing job search leads this should help workers think outside the box of what they can do with their education but also put into perspective what jobs a worker can perform with a certificate in human resources as opposed to a degree.

I truly hope that a realistic approach is adopted by the WSIB.  Rather than emphasizing the target of return to work or labour market reentry , it is necessary to remember that no one asks to be injured, coping with change is difficult and sometimes thinking outside the box is the best solution.  I would ask that in the new work reintegration program that the Board also consider thinking outside the box with a true buy out for workers  where a worker is paid upfront for the cost of a program and allowed to do what is in their view suitable .  This could in fact save the Board tens of thousands of dollars per case and in the end have a win win situation for all the stakeholders.    

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