Getting Help from the Office of the Worker Adviser
What Is the Office of the Worker Adviser (OWA)?
The Office of the Worker Adviser is an independent agency of the Ontario Ministry of Labour. We provide free services in workplace insurance cases (formerly called workers’ compensation) to non-unionized injured workers and to the survivors of workers who died from a work-related injury or disease. The OWA is not part of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).
How Can the OWA Help You?
If you are an injured worker or survivor, the OWA can:
represent you in your appeal either at WSIB or at the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT)
advise you and provide written materials on common workplace insurance problems
inform you about other places where you can find help
The OWA also provides education services to workers and their representatives on workplace insurance topics.
Is There a Charge for OWA Services?
No. The OWA helps you free of charge.
Who Can Get Help From the OWA?
The OWA helps all workers who are not members of a trade union. By law, the OWA cannot provide services to union members.
If you are a member of a union, OWA staff will:
Who Is a Member of a Union?
The OWA considers you to be a member of a union if you are a bargaining unit member in a unionized workplace and you were injured in that workplace.
The OWA will be able to help you if:
you were injured in a unionized workplace, but now work in a non-union workplace
you retired, resigned, or left your job from a unionized workplace
you were laid off or lost your job from a unionized workplace, (unless you want help to get that job back)
you are now working in a unionized workplace, but your claim is for an injury that occurred with another employer
you are on a hiring hall list, but have not worked during the past 12 months
you are the survivor of a unionized worker who died as a result of a workplace injury or disease, but the union is no longer able to assist you
How Can You Get Help From the OWA?
To speak with someone who can give you advice over the phone, you may call our Canada-wide toll free line at 1-800-435-8980 for service in English, or 1-800-661-6365 for service in French. You will automatically be connected to the OWA office nearest you if that office is available. You should have the following information ready when you call:
your WSIB claim number or WSIAT appeal number
the date of your accident
the nature of your injury
the name of your employer at the time of your injury
the WSIB decision(s) or letter(s) which you are calling about
When Will the OWA Represent You on Appeals?
The OWA may represent you on appeals at WSIB and up to the final level of appeal at WSIAT. Our ability to represent you depends on our resources and on the nature of your problem. Whether we represent you or not, OWA staff will help you identify any time limits that you must observe in your case. We will also help you file a letter with WSIB or WSIAT in an effort to protect your appeal rights.
Does the OWA Provide Services in Languages other than English and French?
The OWA provides services mainly in English and French. Some of our offices can provide services in other languages. However, our capacity is limited.
Therefore, if you do not speak English or French, it is important to have someone you trust who speaks your language and also speaks English or French to help you when you call the OWA. If the OWA agrees to represent you at a hearing, a professional interpreter can be arranged.