IWC supports efforts to increase workplace safety, including access to naloxone to reduce the risk of deaths caused by opioid overdoses. The Clinic also urges that people who use opioids are not demonized in this review – many workers have a well-managed and appropriate regime of pain killers which may well be the only thing that is effective for them to manage pain and return to some activities of daily living.
It is imperative that the Ministry also examines the harmful impacts that WSIB policies and practices have on contributing to potentially unsafe use of opioids, including:
- Restore the Board’s previous practice recognizing the importance of time to heal rather than the “Better at Work” approach pressures workers to return to work early
- Listen to the treating doctor on the timing and nature of a safe return to work; ensure the protocols for Board approval of opioid prescriptions are not overly onerous and bureaucratic
- Provide adequate access to alternative treatments for pain