Recap of the WSIAT Stakeholder Event of September 28, 2021

  • October 21, 2021
  • Teresa Gianfelice, Office of the Worker Adviser

Overview

The WSIAT Stakeholder event of September 28, 2021 consisted of:

Chair’s Update – Rosemarie McCutcheon, Tribunal Chair

Caseload Update – Slavica Todorovic, Director, Executive Services and Strategic Initiatives

Recent Noteworthy Decisions – Sarah Schumacher, Counsel to the Chair

E-Share Update – Jon de Groot, Manager, Appeal Services

E-Mail Confirmation for E-Filing Submission – Justin Huang, Director, Information and Technology Services

Update on Zoom Audio for Hearings – Rebecca Woodrow, Counsel, Special Projects and Jessica Francis, Advisor, Tribunal Services

Update on the Access to Justice Committee, Michelle Alton, Tribunal General Counsel

The notes below touch upon the highlights of each presentation.  Please contact the Tribunal (event.coordinator@wst.gov.on.ca) to receive a copy of the accompanying power point presentations for more details.

Chair’s Update

The Tribunal is developing a culture of responsiveness.

Recent remote hearing survey:

  • found that 49.35% of respondents prefer video conference to teleconferences and this aligns with OICs’ preferences.
  • 18% that preferred teleconferences cited clients with tech issues and video creating anxiety in some people
  • 84% said that they would like to see remote hearings continue after COVID restrictions lifted.  Reasons in favour:  save time & money in travel costs, clients are less stressed, remote preferable to written.  Those who were against cited: language barrier issues and lack of gravitas in remote process.
  • Most said it would be best to have both options, remote & in person, going forward.

Remote hearings post COVID-19:

  • hearing will not be mandatory  
  • but Tribunal will encourage representatives to discuss this option with clients
  • there may be an option for hybrid hearing (some attend in person, others remotely).

Update on in-person hearings:

  • 12 appeals are waiting for in person hearings. 
  • one was held in August 2020. 
  • have started to schedule a few in Toronto. 
  • no suitable option for regional in person hearings yet.
  • using the Ian J. Strachan (IJS) conference room in Toronto.
  • IJS capacity of 9 people to allow social distancing. 
  • has a sanitation station, plexiglass, microphones & speakers at desks.

Going paperless:

  • WSIAT fax will be phased out in 2022
  • Encourage representatives to switch to e-file now. 
  • E-file documents are better quality than fax.
  • WSIAT plans to set up rooms with external monitors for in person digital hearings

Neutral citations:

  • Going forward CanLII citations will be added to all decisions cited within a decision. 
  • The CanLII citation will be used the first time the decision is cited to ensure there will be a hyperlink to the cited decision in CanLII.

Caseload Update

Provided review of recent WSIAT statistics.

Noteworthy Decisions

Three decisions dealing with s. 13 presumption (arising out of and in the course of employment):

Decision No. 1083/21, 2021 ONWSIAT 1176 (CanLII) – discusses what is reasonably incidental in determining in the course of employment

Decision No. 1585/19, 2021 ONWSIAT 1131 (CanLII) – re entitlement for seizure denied and notes concerns with “added peril” concept

Decision No. 1459/20, 2021 ONWSIAT 1274 (CanLII) – discusses chance event

Decision No. 1193/21, 2021 ONWSIAT 1285 (CanLII) – weight to be afforded medical evidence in the light of Ferreira v. WSIAT 2019 ONSC 3437

Decision No. 1729/18R, 2021 ONWSIAT 1221 (CanLII) – discusses whether notice of downside risk is required

Decision No. 570/21, 2021 ONWSIAT 1206 (CanLII) – Charter challenge denied re: policy defining severely injured workers differing for NELs & PDs.

Decision No. 214/19, 2021 ONWSIAT 1053 (CanLII) – aggravation basis policy only applies after initial entitlement granted

Decision No. 1197/18, 2021 ONWSIAT 1348 – right to sue in constructive dismissal case upheld where TMS had been denied by WSIB but no claim made for CMS.

E-Share Update

Process:  WSIAT post encrypted files and users pick them up via email link

Status:  Have tested e-share, created process & procedures, and trained staff

Next step:  starting in November 2021 will be inviting representatives to pilot

Expectation:  will launch in early 2022

Update on E-filing Confirmation

As of September 29, 2021, any e-filing will get an email confirming receipt of the e-filing a couple of hours after submission.  The email will include partial WSIB & WSIAT numbers, submission date and number of documents uploaded.

The email will not confirm the type of document and the file names of the documents uploaded will also not be included.

Zoom Audio for Hearing Update

Roll out of zoom audio for hearing has commenced

September to December 2021 will be the transitional phase when both the old way (separate teleconference phone number for audio, video for zoom) and the new way (zoom for audio and video) will be used.

Communication from Scheduling will specify which way is being used for your hearing.

Access to Justice (A2J)

Survey on A2J & accessibility being sent out.  The survey will be asking for feedback on Practice Directions, customer service etc.

New and revised documents are expected in 2022.

First A2J symposium with be the morning of December 15, 2021.  David Corbett will be the keynote speaker.  May be some information coming about CPD accreditation for this session.

About the author

Teresa Gianfelice is a Legislative Interpretation Specialist (LIS) with the Office of the Worker Adviser (OWA), which represents non-unionized injured workers and their survivors. She has been representing injured workers since 1997.