08/17/2011 03:32 EDT | Updated 10/17/2011 05:12 EDT

Ontario Workers Compensation Protest Hits Offices Of Six Provincial Politicians

Flickr: scazon

TORONTO - Injured workers occupied constituency offices of six Ontario politicians Wednesday to protest workers' compensation practices they say impoverish labourers with permanent disabilities.

The protest, organized by the Ontario Federation of Labour, saw workers occupy the offices of Premier Dalton McGuinty and four of his cabinet ministers. Workers also entered the riding headquarters of Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak.

The union said none of the six politicians were at their offices during the protest, in which 20 to 30 people occupied each location for about five hours.

OFL president Sid Ryan Workplace Safety and Insurance Board practices he said underfund injured workers and leave without enough money to live on.

The union wants a 20 per cent cut to benefits made under former Tory premier Mike Harris in 1996 rolled back, and for benefit payouts to be indexed to inflation. It is also seeking an end to the practice of "deeming," which allows a worker's wage-loss benefits to be reduced if the board finds them physically capable of doing other work.

Though the changes were made under a Tory government, Ryan said the McGuinty Liberals have allowed the practices to continue.

"What the Liberals have done is they've carried on with these policies, even though we've told them and made (them) aware that the plight of workers is in dire straights right now," he said.

Labour Minister Charles Sousa, who had his office occupied, said the province is sympathetic to the plight of injured workers, and is awaiting the results of an independent review of the compensation board's funding formula.

"Unlike the previous governments that did little or anything to help them out, our Liberal government has raised benefits for injured workers by nine per cent since we came to office," he said in a statement.