WSIAT decisions are available on the Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) website. CanLII provides free access to decisions made by Canadian courts and tribunals, as well as consolidated statutes and regulations. WSIAT decisions are also available, on a paid basis, from LexisNexis (Quicklaw) and Thomson Reuters (WestlawNext Canada).
Since 2010, the WSIAT has published a selection of noteworthy decisions on its website. This service is designed to provide information about key decisions on medical, legal and procedural issues in a timely and accessible manner.
Research resources are also available at the Ontario Workplace Tribunals Library (OWTL). The OWTL’s collection is open to the public, but no library materials may be borrowed or removed. The OWTL is located at the WSIAT’s Toronto location, and is open Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 5 pm. Please note that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OWTL premises are closed until further notice. However, library services are available by email; please contact the OWTL librarians at firstname.lastname@example.org.
WSIAT Decision Numbers
WSIAT decisions are named using numbers. A WSIAT decision number is composed of three elements: a root number, the year the case was first heard, and a suffix (if appropriate). For example, Decision No. 3247/18R has a root number of 3247, was first heard in 2018, and has an R suffix because it is a reconsideration decision.
The year a case is first heard is not always the same year the decision is released. For example, if a case is first heard in 2018 but the decision is released in 2019, the decision number will still have 18 as the year mark.
A suffix represents the type of decision. These are the suffixes used in WSIAT decision numbers:
|E||extension of time to appeal|
|F||final (seldom used)|
|L||leave to appeal (seldom used)|
|M||merits (seldom used)|
|R||reconsideration or clarification|
Not all decisions are assigned a letter suffix. Most final decisions – also called decisions on the merits – are not assigned a suffix.
Some decision numbers have the same root number and year mark, but are distinguished from each by their letter suffix. For example, Decisions No. 1876/17I, 1876/17IR, 1876/17, 1876/17R and 1876/17R2 reflect the interim, interim-reconsideration, final, first reconsideration and second reconsideration decisions made in the same appeal.
Every WSIAT decision is assigned a set of keywords. Keywords are words or phrases that reflect the subject matter of a decision. For example, Decision No. 123/03I has the keyword “adjournment (additional medical evidence).” This keyword was selected because adjudicators wrote Decision No. 123/03I after adjourning the hearing so WSIAT staff could obtain additional medical evidence.
Keywords are a useful tool to find relevant decisions. For example, if you are looking for decisions that considered whether an injured worker was entitled to a wheelchair, you can search using the keyword “Health care (appliances or apparatus) (wheelchair).” Using this keyword will help you avoid decisions that include the word “wheelchair,” but entitlement to a wheelchair was not an issue under appeal.
As of 2019, the WSIAT has released more than 80,000 decisions. Approximately 30 percent of these decisions – more than 24,000 – have been summarized by WSIAT counsel. The WSIAT’s decision summaries provide a succinct overview of the background information, the issues under appeal, and the key findings made by WSIAT adjudicators. On CanLII these summaries are included in the decision text, appearing at the beginning.
Performing decision searches can be a challenging exercise. If you are having difficulties finding a decision, CanLII has a useful guide on performing decision searches on its website. You can also visit the Ontario Workplace Tribunals Library, where librarians are available to provide assistance. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the OWTL premises are closed to the public until further notice. However, library services are available by email; please contact the OWTL librarians at email@example.com.
Privacy and Personal Information
The WSIAT has a duty to protect the privacy of individuals. In addition, providing the identities of employers or workers is not necessary for ensuring that the public understands the reasons for WSIAT decisions or the principles of workplace safety and insurance law. For these reasons, the WSIAT generally anonymizes the names of parties and witnesses, and removes WSIAT and WSIB claim numbers. Information that could indirectly reveal the identities of parties or witnesses – such as the names of family, friends, co-workers and supervisors – is also anonymized.
However, the WSIAT does not anonymize all personal information. WSIAT decisions name interpreters and experts providing evidence, such as doctors and specialists. Representatives appearing in their professional capacity are also named. In right to sue (section 31) decisions, the parties (applicant, respondent and interested parties) are not anonymized because the civil case is already a matter of public record.