Precarious employment and return to work after work injury: an Ontario portrait

The objective of this research stream is to show how the specificities of the workers’ compensation system established by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act influence the rehabilitation and the return-to-work process of those suffering from work-related injury or illness.


This Ontario-based stream has three main foci.

The first focuses on self-employment in relation to work injury and return to work. University of Waterloo doctoral student, Tauhid Khan, has completed a critical narrative review on how self-employed workers navigate, experience, or manage their injuries and illness. Next, his doctoral thesis will be a qualitative investigation of self-employment, work injury/illness and RTW.

A second stream focuses on understanding how precariously employed workers and their employers approach return to work and how well our current laws and policies support this process. Sue Sherifali (PhD student, University of Waterloo) is conducting in-depth interviews with employers and workers to inform law and policy reform.

A third cross-cutting project was proposed by our partners and is currently in development. It will include a comparison of the situations in Québec and Ontario (Katherine Lippel, Rachel Cox, Ellen MacEachen). Bullying and harassment and return-to work: What is the experience of workers returning to work after injury with regard to bullying and harassment? How are employers affected by bullying and harassment legislation when it comes the time to apply return-to-work protocols?

A conference for knowledge exchange and transfer about the research findings will occur in Year 4 of the study. Key stakeholders guiding the Ontario group are the Office of the Worker Adviser, the Office of the Employer Adviser, Industrial Accidents Victims Group (IAVGO).