In the spring of 2015 a small group of psychologists approached the Fair Practices Commission with concerns about their injured worker clients’ struggles with WSIB and were told to contact the Ontario Federation of Labour to help bring their concerns forward. Subsequently, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups (ONIWG) and more than a dozen health providers collaborated to release a whistleblower report November 4, 2015: “Prescription Over-Ruled: Report on How Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Systematically Ignores the Advice of Medical Professionals.”
On November 5, 2015 a Queen’s Park media conference was hosted by the OFL, ONIWG and health care professionals who spoke out about the concerns outlined in the report, that there was an increasing pattern of WSIB failing to heed medical advice regarding readiness to return to work, approving insufficient treatment for injured workers, blaming ‘pre-existing conditions for ongoing illness and seeking opinions from independent medical examiners rather than from treating practitioners.
There was an overwhelming response after the report’s release from more health care professionals, injured workers, and advocates reinforcing the concerns that the problems were widespread.
January 29, 2016:
A submission was made to the Ontario Ombudsman, from the authors of the Prescription Overruled report. Case examples from more than a dozen health care professionals, injured worker submissions and submissions from a legal clinic representing injured workers were included to provide evidence for the concerns. In addition to the worker case examples, a collection of recent Workplace Safety and Insurance Tribunal (WSIAT) decisions were included which also validated the expressed concerns.
April 18, 2016:
Representatives of the Prescription Overruled group met with the Minister of Labour. The perspective of health care providers was presented and explained by two members of HPIW who were in attendance.
In response to the allegations of the Prescription Overruled group, the WSIB undertook an internal review of their use of Medical Consultants, reviewing 376 cases . In 8% of the cases (which would translate to about 1000 cases a year), the claim file documentation revealed the decision maker did not consider and assess the MC reviewer’s opinion along with all other relevant information in the file in order to make the decision. In 15% of cases, there was some level of difference between the MC file reviewer and the treating health care professional. They also noted that 24% (around 2900) of cases that get sent to medical consultants have no opinion from a treating doctor on file. Statistically, the report counts these as cases in which there is “no disagreement” of medical opinions, which in fact there was no opinion to agree or disagree with. In reality, this means that in one quarter of cases, the WSIB has not acquired an opinion from a treating doctor at all. The conclusion of the internal review was that there was no evidence of systemic disregard for the opinion of a worker’s medical practitioners as alleged in the OFL’s report. read full report
October 14, 2016:
A letter was sent to Mr. Tom Teahen, President and CEO of WSIB, signed by 21 health care providers experienced in assessing and treating injured workers. The health professionals expressed their concerns and frustration about the negative impact the WSIB’s practices are having on the mental and physical health of injured workers in their care. The health professionals were of the opinion that the situation had reached a crisis point. A number of recommendations/solutions that would effectively address the reoccurring problems were outlined in the letter (see 'the recommendations' page') and a meeting with Mr. Teahen was requested to further explain the health care providers' perspective and the proposed solutions.
January 23, 2017:
A meeting took place with Mr. Tom Teahen, President of WSIB and health care providers, representatives from the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and the Ontario Network of Injured Workers’ Groups (ONIWG). The purpose of the meeting was to present the perspective of community health care professionals and discuss the proposed solutions. WSIB was asked by health care professionals to re-engage with them as partners not adversaries and to work together to implement solutions to the problems which have been identified.
february 9, 2017:
Mr. Tom Teahen responded by letter to the attendees at the January 23rd meeting. He outlined several practice changes that would be rolled out, focusing on four key areas: improved communication, improved control, enhanced physician to physician communication and collaboration and governance. Mr. Chris Buckley, OFL President, emphasized the importance of the proposed review of the Adjudicative Practice Document on the Weighing of Medical Evidence and requested an update on the process for the review. see OFL response
Founding members of HPIW:
Dr. Carol Parrott is a registered psychologist with close to 35 years of experience. Her specialty is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and she has considerable experience working with first responders, injured workers, military and victims of crime. Early in her career Dr. Parrott worked at the WSIB’s Downsview Rehabilitation Centre. She held the position of Clinical Director for the Workplace Trauma Program with the Ontario Ministry of Labour for three years, aimed at supporting accident investigators who were exposed to traumatic workplace accidents in the course of their work.
Dr. Giorgio Ilacqua is a registered psychologist since last millennium (1992) and he has been helping people with rehabilitation needs since then. His areas of expertise include chronic pain, emotional reactions to traumatic events, substance abuse, and behaviours that will get you in front of the justice system. At his clinic the work is fairly divided amongst these three areas with frequent overlapping depending on the patient. He has published and spoken publicly on topics such as chronic pain, headaches, hypnosis, stress management, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), resilience and resourcefulness response to industrial and motor vehicle accidents, linguistic and cultural reactions to trauma. Dr. Ilacqua describes his experience with WSIB and before with WCB as positive and professionally stimulating and this is the reason that triggered his involvement in the Prescription Overruled movement.
Dr. Ed Bassis was born in Brooklyn N.Y. and attended school in the U.S. graduating with his Ph.D. in 1972. He and his wife moved to Sudbury where he worked at the Sudbury Algoma Hospital. There he worked with children, adolescents and adults, both inpatient and outpatient. There was a short stint back in the states as Clinical Director of the Holland Michigan Community Mental Health Center before he returned to Sudbury. Dr. Bassis has been in private practice for the last 25 years. He's raised and raced Standardbred’s for the last 20 and has been married for the last 44 years, with 2 children and 3 grandchildren.
Dr. Keith Klassen is a Rehabilitation Psychologist practising in Sudbury with Dr. Champaigne at Champaigne Klassen Psychology Professional Corporation. He has been working with injured workers since 1992 and has worked with WSIB claimants since that time. He has completed hundreds of psychological-vocational assessments for WSIB and for 4 years was the psychologist for the local hospital based WSIB Regional Evaluation Centre. Dr. Klassen went to Kindergarten in Swift Current Saskatchewan where he learned about fairness and the difference between right and wrong. He applies these principles in his life and practice and in speaking out against injustice.
Dr. Terence Woods is a family medicine-trained physician who practices full-time emergency medicine in the Ottawa Valley. He frequently comes into contact with injured workers as their point of first contact into the treatment and recovery process. In working in small, community ER's, he also regularly sees injured workers seeking follow-up care and has become familiar with the hurdles they face in attempting to return to work. Of particular concern, injured workers sometimes find the challenges of their workplace injuries and/or illnesses compounded, rather than alleviated, by the treatment they receive from their employers and by the WSIB, the very body that ostensibly exists to help protect their rights.