Imagine losing your hearing through a workplace accident and not receiving adequate coverage for a proper hearing aid. Sounds unfair, right?
Last week, local healthcare practitioners called on local provincial election candidates to stand up for the rights of workers suffering from hearing loss related to workplace injuries. Along with partners from across the province, they have launched the #HelpOntarioHear campaign. This campaign encourages Ontarians from every walk of life to contact local candidates in the provincial election regarding a recent Workplace Safety & Insurance Board decision to restrict hearing aid options for injured workers.
“These WSIB cuts have hit over 200 patients in my practice, said Sault Ste. Marie audiologist Patricia Lynn VanHoof. The decision on which device is appropriate should rest with patients and healthcare providers, not government bureaucrats”,
As part of its mandate, the WSIB covers the cost of hearing aids for workers that have damaged their hearing on the job. Yet, WSIB is now cutting their coverage to devices made by just three manufacturers, massively reducing the number of devices available to injured workers. Hearing aid devices work differently for each person based on their individual hearing loss. The Hear Ontario coalition – a group of hearing aid manufacturers and hearing healthcare professionals working to maximize the choices and quality of hearing aids provided by the WSIB – believes that the selection of hearing devices should be made by a hearing healthcare professional and their patient – not made by a government looking to save a few bucks.
Worse, the top-quality hearing aids that WSIB has been supplying workers for years have been excluded from the list as well. Injured workers are no longer able to replace their hearing aids with the devices that work best for them.
The coalition believes that this action is totally unacceptable. They’re calling on local candidates to commit to working with the WSIB to reverse their decision, and encourages all Ontarians to reach out to their provincial election candidates through the campaign website, www.hearontario.ca, to voice their concerns.