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Established in 1985, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT) is the final level of appeal to which workers and employers may bring disputes concerning workplace safety and insurance matters in Ontario. WSIAT has always been separate from and independent of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

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  Decision 1164 13
9/25/2013
M. Crystal

  • Board policies (applicability of Board policy)
  • Rehabilitation, vocational (job search)
  • Supplements, FEL (eligibility)
  • Board Directives and Guidelines (work reintegration)

The Board granted the worker entitlement for carpal tunnel syndrome with an accident date in September 1997. The Board identified a SEB as a shipper-receiver but later determined that it was not appropriate for the worker. The Board then identified a new SEB in retail sales. The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer denying FEL supplementary benefits under s. 43(9) of the pre-1997 Act from August 2011 to December 2011, while the worker was conducting a job search.
The applicable Board policy is the policy in place at the time of the Board's operating level decision. That decision was made of September 7, 2011. Accordingly, Board Operational Policy Manual, Document No. 19-03-05, which is applicable to decision related to work transition plans made on or after December 1, 2010, was the applicable policy.
During the period in question, the worker carried out sufficient job search activities to be considered a self-directed VR program. However, the Board denied the supplementary benefits during this period because the applicable Document No. 19-03-05 did not provide explicitly for job searching as a work transition or labour market re-entry activity.
The Vice-Chair found that the worker's job search activity during the period in question was a reasonable work transition activity for the worker that would be likely to assist him to obtain employment in his SEB. Further, sponsorship during this period was not prohibited by the applicable Board policy. The Vice-Chair also noted that the Board paid supplementary benefits from June 2011 to August 2011, while the worker was carrying out the same activity. The Board cannot be expected to sponsor a job search over a prolonged period but the period in question should not be considered unreasonable, particularly given the difficult labour market at the time. In addition, the worker made a number of inquiries from the Board and had a reasonable expectation of sponsorship during this period.
The appeal was allowed.