A “Double Problem”: WSIB Employees and Workplace Stress

Isn’t it ironic? A recent report from the Toronto Star revealed information that many WSIB employees are so overburdened in their jobs that they suffer from anxiety, insomnia, and stress severe enough to require time off work.

When the Ontario Compensation Employees Union (OCEU), which represents staff at the WSIB, ran a survey in January 2018, “90 per cent of the 263 employees who responded to the survey said work-related stress was impacting their personal lives and 92 per cent attributed the workload issues to understaffing.”

What factors are going into these increasingly overburdened work conditions? According to the Star, from 2014 to 2017, the number of unionized employees dropped 6% while the number of managers increased by 16%. Another factor is the increase in volume of WSIB claims, due in part to newly-admissible types of claims such as work-related chronic stress.

The result is that the very people who are supposed to help injured workers can’t do that job properly because of their own work conditions. Steve Mantis, a injured workers’ advocate and WSIB claimant himself, is frustrated yet still empathetic:

“You know you need help — often times both in terms of health care as well as financial support — and you’re not getting any clear information … The folks that are there to help me are feeling stressed out as well. It’s a double problem because they don’t feel able to handle the situation in a way they would like to handle it either.”

The OCEU continues to run a Workload Petition, saying that “multiple positions are significantly understaffed, resulting in large workloads for our members”. It has gathered signatures from close to half their members, and is proactively seeking details on their members’ workload challenges and stress levels to support a group grievance.

It is well known that WSIB’s policies and protocols often work against the very people it is meant to support. To learn that the workplace conditions at WSIB itself are dangerous for mental health erodes the public’s faith in the system that much further.