Local 793 business manager Mike Gallagher has convinced the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council of Ontario to further investigate the case of a widow whose benefits are going to be significantly reduced by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
Gallagher asked the Council to look into the matter after hearing a presentation on Oct. 20 from Carmine Tiano, the Council’s director of occupational services.
Tiano told delegates attending a Council meeting that the widow, whose husband was retired and died from mesothelioma, was entitled to a monthly survivor benefit of $2,170 under the WSIB’s current practice.
As the deceased was not working, the WSIB followed its established practice of using what the worker would likely have earned when calculating benefit payments for the widow.
However, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) later ruled that in cases where the worker is retired at the time of diagnosis with no earnings, a widow’s entitlement should be based on the statutory minimum of $15,313 when calculating benefit payments.
Therefore, Tiano said, the widow only qualifies for $235 a month in benefit payments, instead of $2,170.
Gallagher told the meeting that the decision was “very disturbing” and the Council should see what else can be done.
“I always hate to hear that there’s nothing we can do about it,” he said. “We’re all here because we want to make a difference and this is an injustice.”
Gallagher suggested that the Council take the matter to a judicial review in order to get the ruling overturned.
Patrick Dillon, business manager of the Council, said he fully agreed with Gallagher’s suggestion and will start work on the matter right away.
He noted that the Council has already written a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty and Labour Minister Linda Jeffrey, requesting immediate action be taken to rectify the situation.
Dillon said he’ll do “whatever is possible” to get the decision of the WSIAT reversed.