Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers marks 35th anniversary

Executive director highlights OHCOW's role

Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers marks 35th anniversary
Photo: Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers Inc. (OHCOW) Facebook page

The Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) celebrated its 35th anniversary on Friday and highlighted its commitment to advocating for the health and safety of Ontario's workforce.

The OHCOW group continues working on a host of other workplace associated illnesses and injuries where workers feel their health and well being has been impacted, according to a report from Sudbury.com.

One of the key aims of OHCOW is to help workers establish that their illness or injury was work related, said Brittney Ramakko, the executive director of the Northern Region at the OHCOW’s Sudbury office.

"So a lot of our clients would have applied for WSIB and had been denied," said Ramakko.

"So they can come to us. We have teams with an occupational health nurse, occupational hygienist, ergonomists and physicians.  They'll review and provide an independent evaluation. So you can come in and get your file looked at and a second opinion, basically," she said in the report.

OHCOW’s role is not to refute WSIB, but to gather information from workers on some of the “bleak working conditions” that might contribute to occupational illness or injury, she said in the report.

During the event, Sudbury MPP Jamie West presented a congratulatory scroll to OHCOW Sudbury executive director Ramakko.

Also present at the event was Leo Gerard, a former United Steelworkers international director and Companion of the Order of Canada.

Gerard recalled that it was USW Local 1005 in Hamilton that set out to get the first OHCOW clinic running on its own. That first clinic was created 1989 by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) and was funded through the Ontario Ministry of Labour, now known as the ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD), according to the report.

He also told the crowd – jokingly – that the fight to get funding for OHCOW wasn’t pretty but it was worth it, according to the report.