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Work Reintegration Program: Frequently asked questions

1. Why did the WSIB develop the Work Reintegration Program?

The new Work Reintegration Program was developed because the old Labour Market Re-entry (LMR) Program was not working:

  • Workers and employers had raised numerous and persistent complaints about the quality of training and education programs, and the lack of credibility their credentials have with employers
  • Workers felt they were forced into programs they didn’t want and that didn’t result in jobs
  • Despite increased investments in retraining programs, results did not improve - workers and employers were not seeing value 
  • Every year, the WSIB referred an average of 8,000 workers to the LMR Program -that’s 22 new workers each day - but only five of those 22 workers were employed following an average 21-month program.

Under the new Work Reintegration Program, the WSIB’s priority is to 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.

2. Why is the WSIB now going to use the public college system?

Both injured workers and employers have raised service concerns with the quality of education and training programs, and injured workers have expressed a desire for more choice of the method and institution for training and education.

The WSIB will ensure quality work transition services and cost management by using public colleges and private career colleges registered to provide Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities approved vocational programs.

We recently reached a historic agreement with 24 public colleges in Ontario to provide increased access to academic upgrading and vocational programs for injured workers who receive work transition services and to provide them with personalized academic advice to increase their success rate.

Increased use of the public adult education system will provide greater assurance of sound curriculum, qualified instructors and compliance with Ontario government standards and regulations, and standardized pricing of programs.

This approach will also reduce the stigma experienced by injured workers when they are sent to schools that only teach injured workers, and will provide them with credentials that employers see as credible.

Under the new Work Reintegration Program, workers are given the choice of attending either a public college or a government registered private career college.

3. When was the new Work Reintegration Program implemented?

As part our commitment to significantly improve return to work and employment outcomes for injured workers and employers, the WSIB began providing case management services internally on December 1, 2010 when the interim Work Reintegration policies took effect.  Following extensive stakeholder consultation, the interim WR policies were finalized with an effective date of July 15, 2011.

4. What exactly is meant by Work Reintegration?

Work Reintegration is the process of returning to work following a period of disability. It encompasses the many ways in which this happens. For example, a graduated return, accommodations, and retraining to return to either the injury employer or a new employer.

Leading practice in other jurisdictions supports an integrated program that provides workers with the services they need - when they need them. No other jurisdiction distinguishes between RTW and LMR as Ontario did, which delayed workers getting retraining.

The practice of differentiating RTW from LMR generally included termination of the employment relationship prior to retraining services being provided. The new Work Reintegration Program eliminates this practice and takes a more holistic approach to integrating workers back to employment, with priority placed on RTW with the injury employer.

5. Will new Work Reintegration plans be provided for LMR claimants who have completed or are winding down their programs and didn't agree with their LMR plan under the old LMR system?

If a client is in an LMR Program and has concerns, they can discuss their concerns with their case manager, who will review the situation and determine if any changes are required.

Workers whose LMR Program was completed after December 1, 2010 may be eligible for the Employment Placement and Retention Support services under the new Work Reintegration Program.

6. How will you ensure that the new Work Reintegration Program doesn’t repeat mistakes made in the past?

The new Work Reintegration Program includes key changes from the old LMR program. These include:

  • Highly qualified work transition specialists and managers
  • Rigorous recruitment and training processes that set out clear expectations for all work transition staff
  • A Performance Measurement, Monitoring and Evaluation Program, including dedicated quality management and program evaluation staff
  • Metrics covering quality, processes, outcomes and cost
  • Integrated supporting policies that are fair and include expanded services, more worker input and choice, and increased employer accountability.  

7. Will the new Work Reintegration Program save money?

Even while improving quality and service, we anticipate saving at least $10 million annually in program costs.

Quality and cost effectiveness are fundamental to the success of the new Work Reintegration Program. Ultimately, the best way to reduce costs is to reduce the number of workers who need work transition services by preventing workplace injuries and getting injured workers back to work with their injury employer.

The WSIB and its stakeholders want to derive value from the investment in worker retraining.  Value is derived from quality programs that lead to employment and client satisfaction at a reasonable cost. This will be achieved through:

  • Increased use of the public adult education system and a requirement that Private Career Colleges meet high standards. This will provide greater assurance of sound curriculum, qualified instructors and compliance with Ontario government standards and regulations, and standardized pricing of programs.
  • Clear and reasonable parameters on the level of investment in an individual’s retraining program. This will complement increased worker choice, create greater consistency of investment across similar situations, provide the WSIB with increased predictability of overall program costs, and manage injured worker expectations.
  • Removing profit motivation from case planning. This will ensure that the best interests of the worker are kept in the forefront. These are accomplished by bringing retraining case planning and support for the worker during their program into the WSIB and by setting fixed fees for services.
  • Contracting for specialized services, such as assessments, job development, job search training, placement and retention support. These will incorporate clear quality and outcome requirements.
  • A quality assurance program within the WSIB, which oversees service quality. Corrective action will be taken when standards and expectations are not met.
  • Management controls over case level decision-making, which focus on quality, cost- effectiveness and value.

8. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has suggested that small business needs a different level of support for RTW than large business. How will the WSIB provide this?

Return to Work Specialists are available to assist with RTW coordination and planning. The WSIB will analyze the outcomes of small versus larger employers, and track outcomes to determine if small business needs a more customized approach under the new Work Reintegration Program. We give small businesses a longer period of written notice to comply with their legislative co-operation obligations. We will also provide financial assistance for workplace accommodation if needed.

9. Stakeholders have recommended legislative changes regarding work reintegration. Is the WSIB prepared to take this issue to the government?

The WSIB is working with the current legislation to improve system performance, and is not aware of any intent by the government to open up the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) for changes to work reintegration.

We are developing a rigorous measurement and evaluation system for the new Work Reintegration Program.  If the evaluation shows that legislative change is needed to improve employment outcomes, we will consider making recommendations to the government.

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