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House Statement
by the Honourable Kevin Flynn
Minister of Labour
WSIB 100th Anniversary

  • Issued: October 29, 2014
  • Content last reviewed: October 2014

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Mr. Speaker, this month marks the 100th anniversary of the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board or WSIB.

A hundred years ago – on October 1, 1914 – what was then known as the Workmen’s Compensation Board held its first board meeting to begin providing workplace compensation to Ontarians.

It was a time of great change that year.

Canada was sending its first convoy of troops across the Atlantic in the First World War.

The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto had opened its doors to the public for the first time.

And Ontario judge Sir William Meredith had just provided the Lieutenant Governor a report on compensating workers who had been injured on the job.

That report outlined a historic compromise.

It laid out certain key principles for a worker’s compensation system, which include:

  • No-fault compensation
  • Security of benefits through the establishment of a fund
  • Collective liability of employers, and
  • An administration by an independent agency.

Those principles led to the creation of what is now known as the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

Those principles ring true today, just as they did 100 years ago.

And they will continue to ring true for the next 100 years and beyond, as the WSIB adapts to changing needs of the workforce.

Our government continues to be committed to these founding principles of the WSIB because we believe that a strong and fair WSIB is crucial to Ontario’s workers, employers and economy.

The injured workers of this province must be treated with fairness, dignity and respect.

Because even in a land of abundance, our workers – the people of Ontario – are our most important resources.

So we must do our utmost to protect them.

The WSIB has provided injured and ill workers compensation benefits, access to health care and ongoing support to help workers transition safely back onto the job.

And I know that the WSIB is committed to creating a financially sustainable system that will continue to help Ontario workers well into the next century and beyond.

In this regard, I‘d like to acknowledge Chair Elizabeth Witmer and President David Marshall, for their ongoing work.

Thank you to both of them.

Mr. Speaker, this month we also observe another important milestone.

This month marks the 35th anniversary of Ontario’s landmark workplace health and safety legislation – the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

This piece of legislation forever changed the way workplaces addressed health and safety.

It gave workers three key rights:

  • The right to refuse unsafe work
  • The right to know about hazards
  • And the right to participate in identifying and resolving health and safety concerns.

Ontario is among one of the safest places to work in Canada.

But as long we have mothers and fathers, or sons and daughters, who fail to come home after their shifts because of a workplace injury or fatality – we have more work to do.

That’s why our government has embarked on the greatest revitalization of Ontario’s workplace health and safety system in more than three decades.

One of the most significant changes came into effect on July first of this year. It is a regulation that requires employers to ensure that workers and supervisors complete basic occupational health and safety awareness training programs.

We are the first province in Canada to introduce such mandatory health and safety training, and we believe it will give all workers across this province the basic tools they need to do their jobs safely.

Mr. Speaker, as we move forward from these important anniversaries, we will continue to focus on the areas of greatest need – such as vulnerable workers, small businesses and high-hazard workplaces.

We all have to work together to prevent workplace injuries, illness and fatalities.

We all share that important responsibility.

So, on this occasion, as we commemorate how the WSIB has served Ontarians and look to the next 100 years, let us strengthen our resolve to eliminate workplace injuries.

Let us remind ourselves that even one workplace injury is one too many.

And let us continue working together to realize our vision of healthier, safer and fairer workplaces.

That’s a future that we want our children to see, and that all workers deserve.

That’s the Ontario we want to build.

Thank you.