The Office of the Worker Adviser (OWA) is an independent agency of the Ontario Ministry of Labour. The OWA is not part of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) or the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB).
The OWA was established in 1985, along with the Office of the Employer Adviser (OEA) and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT). The OWA's mandates are listed in the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The OWA provides free and confidential services (advice, education, and representation) in workplace insurance matters (formerly called workers’ compensation) and on occupational health and safety reprisal issues. The OWA has provided assistance with workplace insurance matters since 1985 and health and safety reprisals since April 2012.
The OWA provides workplace insurance services to non-unionized injured workers and their survivors. Occupational health and safety reprisal services are provided to non-unionized workers. The OWA delivers all of its services in English and French.
The OWA represents workers at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), the Workplace Safety and Insurance Tribunal (WSIAT) and the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB). Alternative dispute resolution is used to resolve cases when possible. The OWA also provides self-help information for workers to handle their own claims or applications where appropriate.
The OWA develops community partnerships with other groups that assist injured workers or who promote health and safety in the workplace. The OWA also provides educational services in local communities on topics related to its mandates.
The Director of the OWA is Alec Farquhar. He has over 30 years of experience with workplace health and safety and workers’ compensation issues.
He previously served as the Managing Director of the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW). In addition, he was previously Director of the Ministry of Labour’s Occupational Health and Safety Branch where he was responsible for the development of operational health and safety programs and partnerships.
The Office of the Worker Adviser has sixteen offices, located throughout Ontario. The head office is located in downtown Toronto at 123 Edward St., Suite 1300.
The offices are divided into four regions:
Toronto & Eastern Region
Toronto, Scarborough, Ottawa
Downsview, Hamilton, Mississauga, St. Catharines
London, Sarnia (Satellite Office), Waterloo, Windsor
Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Timmins, Elliot Lake
The OWA also offers clinics in other communities at regular intervals.
If you would like more information about how you can get assistance from the OWA, please see Getting Help from the OWA.
If you would like more information about your local OWA office, please see Contact Us or call the OWA at the phone numbers listed below.
If you have a workplace insurance issue, you can contact the Office of the Worker Adviser by phoning toll free:
1-800-435-8980 (Service in English)
1-800-661-6365 (Service in French)
If you have a health and safety reprisal issue, you can contact the Office of the Worker Adviser by phoning:
1-855-659-7744 (Toll Free)