On May 19, 2020, MPP Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls) tabled Bill 191, Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act (Presumption Respecting COVID-19), 2020 as a private member’s bill. The bill was carried on First Reading.
Bill 191 would amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 to add a rebuttable presumption that COVID-19 is an occupational disease for essential workers who test positive. The presumption would apply to workers who received positive COVID-19 diagnoses on or after January 25, 2020.
The presumption proposed in Bill 191 is not irrefutable. This means that employers would be able to challenge a claim. However, Bill 191 would shift the burden of proof from the workers to the employers. Instead of workers having to prove that their contraction of COVID-19 was work-related, as they do now, employers would have to prove that it was not. This would make it easier for frontline workers, including paramedics, to access WSIB benefits quickly.
In order to become law, Bill 191 still has to go to Committee, pass a Second Reading and Third Reading, and receive Royal Assent.