Ontario launches first review of occupational illnesses

Report aims to enhance support system for injured workers

Ontario launches first review of occupational illnesses

Ontario’s Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is launching its first-ever review of the province’s occupational illness system.

The review will be conducted by the MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, the Ontario government revealed in a statement on Tuesday. The hospital is an independent research centre with expertise in studying complex community health issues.  In partnership with the provincial government, it will evaluate how these illnesses are identified, monitored and prevented in Ontario.

“Ontario has one of the strongest health and safety records in the country, but we need to make sure our system works for everyone. I have tasked this team of independent experts to find a clear path forward that improves supports for injured workers and their families. Change is coming to the system, and we are going to get it done,” says Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development in the statement.

Read more: Safety Corner: The compensation system is flawed, we need to fix it

“As science advances and our understanding of occupational disease evolves, we need to make sure our systems of support keep up,” says Jeffery Lang, President and CEO of the WSIB. “It is crystal clear we need everyone involved in the occupational disease system to work together to prevent illnesses in the first place, and properly identify them when they do happen.”

The study is expected to be completed in December of this year. It will focus on finding and hopefully fixing issues raised by Dr. Paul Demers in his 2020 independent review of occupational disease. The statement says that “this could lead to more timely compensation and better recognize work related illnesses. The research team will consult with health and safety system partners including labour groups and workers’ rights advocates, employers, health care professionals and the health and safety community.”

In addition, Ontario recently invested over $6 million to support research led by the Occupational Cancer Research Centre (OCRC) to identify the causes of workplace cancer, and prevent them from occurring.

In February, the Ontario government has formally recognized Parkinson’s as an occupational disease linked to McIntyre Powder.