It is with heavy hearts that we mark the passing of Ian J. Strachan, who was the longest serving Chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT or “the Tribunal”) from 1997, until his retirement in 2016. Ian fearlessly led the Tribunal through many challenges, including the introduction of significant new legislation that came into effect in 1998, and influxes of appeals to the Tribunal over the years. He is universally remembered as a principled, courageous, and thoughtful leader.
Before joining the Tribunal, Ian received his degree in Economics, and then his law degree, both from the University of Toronto. Ian joined the Tribunal as a Vice-Chair in 1986 and became the Tribunal Chair in 1997. In addition to his national stature as the Tribunal Chair, Ian was a strong supporter of the Society of Ontario Adjudicators and Regulators (SOAR), serving as a Director, as Vice-President, and as President. In addition, he was an active member of the Medico-Legal Society of Toronto, the Council of Canadian Administrative Tribunals, and the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada.
Ian built a reputation for himself and the Tribunal, and enhanced the Tribunal’s standing as one of the leading administrative tribunals in Canada. He set high standards, and led by example, writing numerous leading decisions that were models of clarity, persuasiveness, and readability. The Messages from the Chair which Ian authored for the Tribunal’s Annual Reports demonstrated his flair for the use of metaphor to bring life to the statistics and emphasize his key points.
In 2006, Ian was selected by counsel in both the injured worker and employer communities to receive the Ontario Bar Association Ron Ellis Award for his leadership, dedication, and commitment to fairness in the administrative justice system.
Ian had a formidable and impressive presence, but he also had a kind heart and a well-known sense of humour. He showed genuine attention to OICs and staff members in all areas of the Tribunal.
In October 2019, the Tribunal unveiled its modern new training facility as the Ian J. Strachan Conference Centre. The Ian J. Strachan Conference Centre has been the site of ongoing WSIAT professional development programs, as well as stakeholder outreach sessions. The Ian J. Strachan Conference Centre is a lasting tribute to Ian’s legacy of excellence and collegiality at the Tribunal.
Due to the current restrictions, a small, private ceremony for Ian's immediate family will be held, with a more inclusive celebration once restrictions are lifted. Please see the obituary for more information. At the WSIAT, there has been an outpouring of accolades for Ian from those who worked with him. We extend our sincere sympathies to Ian’s family.