WSIB must cover all workers who become sick with COVID-19

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Despite the fact that countless thousands of essential workers in Ontario are putting themselves at risk every single day to keep our province running, the provincial compensation board is refusing to automatically cover any front-line worker who gets sick with COVID-19 during the pandemic. 

Other jurisdictions in the United States and beyond have created what is called a "presumptive clause" that covers every worker who comes down the virus. But here in Ontario, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is still insisting on deciding everything on a "case by case" basis that could result in delays, hassles, and - believe it or not - squabbling over whether or not the front-line worker putting their life on the line in public every day even caught Coronavirus at work. 

We believe all essential workers who are caring for us and our parents/grandparents in hospitals or long-term care homes, the police officers keeping the peace, the EMT trying to get us to hospital, the people working in grocery stores so we can buy food, those making deliveries, and those on the construction sites are heroes. In the event that they should develop COVID-19, they should not have to prove they developed the Coronavirus in the performance of their duties. They must be protected by an irrefutable presumption that they became sick as the result of work, and have their claims approved. 

While this is morally the correct thing to do, it also aligns with important public health goals. When a worker who is experiencing symptoms has to worry about lost wages or a  fight with WSIB, there can appear to be a disincentive to report those symptoms, which hinders the safety of other workers and everyone in the province.  

The WSIB has bent over backwards to assist employers - who have already received a 47% reduction in premiums over the last two years - by further deferring their premium payments during the COVID pandemic. But where is the help for the workers who are actually putting themselves in danger?  

We, the undersigned, call on the WSIB to protect all essential workers who come down COVID-19 with an irrefutable presumption that it is caused by work, and approve their claims without delay.