Injured Workers Call to Stop the Cuts to Legal Aid

BARRIE, Ontario, July 11, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Injured workers and their supporters are holding an action at noon outside the constituency office of new Attorney General Doug Downey, to demand an immediate reversal of the funding cuts to legal aid and legal clinics. The three legal clinics that specialize in helping injured workers received among the deepest cuts in the province, which will result in significant reduction to frontline services and less help available for people who desperately need it.

“Because the WSIB is not doing its job to support the people who need it, 45% of injured workers with permanent disabilities end up living at or near the poverty line,” said ONIWG President Janet Paterson. “Significant numbers develop mental health struggles. The situation is dire, and the injured worker community relies on the legal clinics to help put people’s lives back together. But now with the cuts, so many will have nowhere to turn for help.”

Ontario’s legal clinics provide crucial frontline support for some of the most marginalized and vulnerable people in Ontario. From tenants facing illegal evictions, to refugees facing deportation to unsafe situations, to people with mental and physical disabilities who have been unfairly denied social assistance, hundreds of thousands of people across the province have benefited support from legal aid and the legal clinics. Injured workers are no exception, with the clinics providing both individual representation and system-wide advocacy that can literally be life-saving.

“For decades, we have worked with the dedicated individuals at the legal clinics who support injured workers with basic needs,” said Paterson. “Without these people, more injured workers who are unfairly denied WSIB will be forced onto the publicly-funded social assistance programs. That’s not good for the injured workers, and it’s not good for the public. We need more resources to support injured workers, not less.”

Today’s action will involve ONIWG and the Barrie and District Injured Workers’ Group holding a public teach-in about the needs of injured workers and the role that clinics play in supporting them. We are calling on Doug Downey to fully reverse the cuts to legal aid and the clinics.

For more information, please contact:
Willy Noiles, ONIWG Executive Vice-President: 289-219-4473