Making sense of Ontario’s law reform

AndrewKingIn “Making sense of law reform : a case study of workers’ compensation law reform in Ontario 1980 to 2012”, his 2014 thesis presented for the Master of Law degree at the University of Ottawa, Andrew King analyzes the law reform and its implementation from the standpoint of injured workers.

Part One constructs an analytical framework drawing on legal theories and principles of adjudication. It provides a brief history of the Ontario Workers’ Compensation Board, its powers and adjudicative practices prior to the reforms.

Part Two summarizes reform in Ontario’s workers’ compensation law from 1980 to 2012. The description is organized into five periods reflecting significant shifts in direction. It focuses on government recommendations for reform, identifies and describes key legislative changes, and explores changes to governance, appeals and adjudication. Legislation, case law, policy and practice are reviewed.

Part Three reviews the evidence of the impact of the Ontario reforms on a particular group:
unemployed, permanently disabled workers. While the Board refuses to track the economic status of injured workers, research suggests poverty and stigma face many.
Conclusions suggest that Ontario’s workers’ compensation system was transformed from one
established to address the interests of workers and employers separately to one that balances those interests and now into one that privileges the interests of employers. Workers’ interests are a cost to be reduced. The prospect of law reform as an empirically driven process to address injustice has been corrupted by a focus on correctness with fairness as an afterthought. (Author abstract)

Read the full thesis.

Former director of health, safety and environment for the National Office of the United Steelworkers of Canada (USW), Andrew King, long-time advocate for injured workers, is currently Assistant Professor, School of Labour Studies at McMaster University, co-investigator for the Centre for Research on Work Disability Policy and one of the worker representatives on the Research Advisory Council of the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board in Ontario.