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WSIB critics say spending cuts are ‘devastating’ injured workers

Dramatic changes to health-care services for injured workers, including a 40 per cent funding drop in rehabilitative treatment and a 30 per cent drop in drug benefit spending, is having a “devastating” impact on some of the province’s most vulnerable citizens, according to a letter obtained by the Star.

The letter, to be delivered Friday to senior Ontario government figures and signed by more than 140 doctors, legal clinics and labour groups, expresses deep concern about injured workers who are increasingly unable to get the treatment their doctors recommend because of significant health-care changes at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. The letter claims that shift is designed by the board to cut costs at the expense of injured workers.

“We only have one body,” said Indira Rupchand, 56, who hurt her back three years ago on a manufacturing production line. “If we are hurt at work, I think we deserve to be treated with dignity and get the treatment that is recommended. Many times we are railroaded.”

The board has moved away from relying on the medical advice of injured workers’ own doctors in favour of opinions provided by physicians in specialty clinics contracted by the WSIB, according to the letter. The board has doubled its spending on such clinics over the past 10 years.

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