Poverty status of worker compensation claimants with permanent impairments
Authors: Peri J. Ballantyne, Rebecca Casey, Fergal T. O'Hagan, and Pat Vienneau
Poverty levels have proven to be pernicious in Canada, with particular groups at heightened risk of poverty. Given that people with disabilities are consistently identified as among those ‘at risk’, we seek to determine the extent to which injured workers/worker compensation claimants who had sustained bodily impairments live in poverty. Employing two poverty indicators, we describe the poverty levels of Ontario injured workers with permanent impairments at an average of 52 months post-injury. For one indicator, we describe proximity to/depth of poverty; and in bivariate and multivariate analyses, we examine the factors associated with poverty in the post-injury period. Estimated poverty rates for the injured worker sample – ranging from 17 to 26% – compare unfavourably to published estimates of poverty in the general population of working-aged Canadians/Ontarians and equate to those of Canadians/Ontarians with disabilities. Pre-injury employment characteristics and income status only partly account for post-injury poverty, pre-injury health does not. Sample members in post-injury poverty were more likely to report having sustained multiple injuries at the workplace, were less likely to have returned to employment or to have recovered pre-injury earnings, and yet contributed significantly more to post-injury household incomes than those not in post-injury poverty. We discuss the implications of the findings for worker compensation boards that adjudicate and have final authority on worker claims for compensation for harms sustained in the workplace.
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