Recent WSIAT decisions confirm COPD benefits should not be reduced due to smoking history

 

The WSIAT has recently granted over 15 worker appeals where COPD benefits had been reduced for workers with a history of smoking. The WSIAT has ruled that the issue is now settled.  In particular, the WSIAT found that COPD is not a divisible injury and that cutting benefits for smoking is not appropriate, see WSIAT Decision No. 912/18.

 

For years the WSIB has been apportioning benefits for COPD.  This means that in cases where the WSIB has granted entitlement for COPD, if the worker was also a smoker, the WSIB would cut benefits based on their smoking history.  This was done without proof that smoking caused any injury separate from the workplace injury. The WSIAT has agreed this practice is not correct. Despite the increasing body of WSIAT decisions on this issue, the WSIB continues to reduce benefits in these situations.

 

The injured worker community is currently bringing this issue to the WSIB with a request that the practice be changed. It is hoped that the WSIB will agree to bring their approach in line with the recent WSIAT decisions and stop reducing COPD benefits. 

 

August 3, 2018