Friday, August 6, 2010

Why is Ontario's WSIB phasing out its LMR program?

A few weeks ago, Ontario’s WSIB announced a major change in direction for its Labour Market Re-entry (LMR) program [roughly equivalent to WorkSafeBC's Vocational Rehabilitation Services].  The change will phase out the use of external providers and create a new Work Reintegration Program inside the WSIB. 

First a little background.  Back in 1997,  Ontario moved to a ‘self-reliance’ model; most employers were mandatorily required to accommodate an injured worker in a return to work with the accident employer.  The legislation also imposed a duty on the worker to cooperate toward this end.  For workers who could not return to their accident employer, the LMR program became the option.  The LMR program was to be delivered in the community by external professionals so in 1998, the internal disability case management and vocational rehabilitation functions of the WSIB for cases that could not return to their accident employer were outsourced.

In 2009, WSIB contracted an outside consulting agency to conduct an audit of the LMR and other Return-to-Work (RTW) services.  The report recommended changes to the program to make it more consistent with the leading practices of other jurisdictions (including WorkSafeBC).  This report, stakeholder consultations and a value for money audit showed that the re-training programs were not having the desired effect.  The lack of a link between re-training programs [employability] and effective labour market re-entry [employment] was identified as one root cause.  The absence of direct WSIB involvement in LMR actually hindered return to work and the effectiveness of LMR programs. 

The solution?  WSIB will phase out its use of external providers and will establish an internal role for ‘Work Reintegration Professionals’ who will actively “provide injured workers with a sound assessment and, if needed, high-quality, credible training that will -- to the best of the WSIB’s ability -- equip them for return to work.”  Clearly, the move is toward achieving better RTW outcomes and higher wage replacements for injured workers.

The new Work Reintegration Program is expected to be fully in place by the end of 2010.  According to the WSIB,
The new Work Reintegration approach will support:

  • Increased simplicity of communication and co-ordination of services between WSIB and workers,

  • Increased clarity of accountability,

  • Greater assurance of workers getting the service they need, when they need it,

  • Increased consistency of services provided in similar circumstances, and

  • Improved management of expectations and a reasonable level of investment within clear cost parameters.

You can read background on all this on the WSIB website .

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