Ontario’s Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) has posted details regarding its suspension of certain time limits imposed by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act. The details relate to the time at which a claim for benefits may be made after a workplace injury or illness; the time limit for employers to report an injury or illness; the time limit for objecting to a decision of the WSIB; and the time limit for reporting a material change.
The Six Month Time Limit to File a Claim for Benefits After a Workplace Injury or Illness
Under normal circumstances, section 22(1) of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act mandates that a worker shall file a claim to the WSIB six (6) months after the accident giving rise to the claim, or potentially be barred from doing so.
However, the WSIB has indicated that the six month time limit for all injured or ill people to file a claim for benefits will not apply while the state of emergency is in effect.
While the WSIB continues to caution that claims should be filed as soon as possible, claims for benefits will not be denied due to a missed time limit. Furthermore, this applies to any time limits that would have expired on or after March 16, 2020, and will last until the end of the emergency.
The Three Day Time Limit for Employers to Report an Injury or Illness
Normally, section 21(1) of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act provides that an employer shall notify the WSIB within three (3) days after learning of an accident to a worker if the accident requires health care or results in the worker being absent from work or not being able to earn full wages. Current WSIB policy (#15-01-02) allows up to 7 calendar days for the WSIB’s receipt of the employer’s Form 7.
The WSIB continues to expect employers to make all reasonable efforts to report any injuries or illnesses within the expected timelines, unless they are prevented from doing so because of the state of emergency,
As well, in cases where employers are not able to meet the expected timeline, the WSIB will use discretion on a case-by-case basis to extend the time limit so as to avoid unfairly penalizing businesses or injured/ill people for delays during this state of emergency.
The Time Limit for Objecting to a WSIB Decision
Section 120(1) of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act provides that parties (including both workers and employers) who object to WSIB decisions shall object:
- Within 30 days after a decision is made in relation to a return to work or a labour market re-entry plan; and
- Within six (6) months in any other case.
These time limits have been suspended by the WSIB, retroactive to any time limits as of March 16, 2020 and ongoing while the state of emergency remains in effect.
However, the WSIB continues to caution that objections to decisions should be made known as early as possible, though the right to object will not be denied for missing a time limit. Again, this applies to any time limits that would have expired on or after March 16, 2020 and will continue until the end of the state of emergency.
The 10 Day Time Limit to Report a Material Change in Circumstances
Section 23(3) of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act provides that a person receiving benefits under the insurance plan or who may be entitled to do so shall notify the WSIB of a material change in circumstances related to their entitlement within 10 days after the change occurs.
It is also useful to note that sections 149(2)-(3) make it an offence for persons and employers to wilfully fail to inform the WSIB of material changes within the 10 day time limit.
The WSIB has indicated their expectation that employers, as well as injured/ill individuals, will continue to make all reasonable efforts to report a material change within 10 days, unless they are prevented from doing so due to the state of emergency.
Furthermore, in cases where the expected timeline cannot be met, the WSIB will use discretion to extend time limits related to reporting material changes to avoid unfairly penalizing people with claims or employers for delays during the state of emergency.
We will continue to update our clients with information as soon as it becomes available. If you have any questions about this topic, or other COVID-19 related questions, please do not hesitate to contact a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer, and for Workers’ Compensation specific questions you may also contact a CompClaim consultant or refer to the Firm’s COVID-19 website resources.