On March 7, 2023, our section presented a program for representatives and adjudicators who work in the workers’ compensation system. The program was in response to and in support of vulnerable injured workers who might be experiencing mental health challenges, and who are involved in litigation at the WSIB or WSIAT. The fact that around 150 people attended the program, including representatives and adjudicators, showed the importance of this issue in our area of practice.
Recognizing that this is an issue that impacts all the players in workers’ compensation, we had arranged for presenters from WSIAT (Vice-Chair Linda Gehrke), WSIB (Return to Work Project Director Eva Kolodziejski), employer counsel (Stephen Roberts, McTague Law Firm) and worker counsel (Maryth Yachnin, Industrial Accident Victims’ Group of Ontario). Program co-chairs were Julia Noble (Associate Counsel to the Chair of WSIAT) and Alec Farquhar (Inclusive Design for Employment Access).
The presenters reviewed – from their own perspectives – issues which arise when an injured worker may be struggling to navigate or participate in the claims and appeals process, including situations where mental health issues may arise and sometimes even reach a crisis stage.