The COVID-19 virus has affected all of us in varying and dramatic ways. We are constantly learning new things about it, including symptoms that may translate into long-term health effects.
Ontario has made good progress, but thousands of people working in essential jobs including our front-line health care workers, those in long-term care homes and other places have been stricken by this virus, and may well be suffering long term debilitating effects. Those who contracted the virus outside of a work environment may find that even as the economy opens up, they are too sick to return to their jobs.
Government emergency benefits are limited and won’t be there in the long run.
Workers compensation coverage is likely available for those who contract the virus in the course of their employment. Benefits can include wage losses, and health care. For those not covered by WSIB, you may have short term or long term disability benefits through your employer that may apply.
As the pandemic initially spread, we were given information that the symptoms would likely last for a limited time and people recover. However, as we gain more experience with the virus, some victims are finding that the damage done can lead to long lasting problems
These problems can include extreme fatigue, difficulty with concentration and memory, body aches and other difficulties – that can often prevent one from returning to their regular jobs. Yet as some of these victims note, many doctors are dismissive of their complaints. You can expect to run into difficulties with WSIB and private disability insurance companies who are often skeptical when people complain of these “invisible” impairments that are in fact very real and debilitating.
The distress is only compounded when those in the “establishment” refuse to acknowledge the reality and seriousness of these problems. In the past, it has taken years for the medical establishment and courts to accept the reality of things like chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and the long term impact of concussion injuries. The newness of COVID-19 leads us to believe that many long term impairments caused by this virus will be similarly challenged by WSIB and private insurers.
You can challenge these doubters though – there are appeal processes with WSIB including a separate Tribunal that can ultimately rule on your case, and with private insurers, a civil lawsuit may provide a road to recovering compensation if denied.