Tips for WSIB & WSIAT Hearings
Information adopted from the Ontario Worker Adviser (OWA) website. Used with permission.
Differences between WSIB and WSIAT hearings
These tips apply to oral hearings at both the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Appeals Tribunal (WSIAT), unless otherwise noted.
- An Appeals Resolution Officer (ARO) decides your case at the WSIB.
- A Vice-Chair or a three-person panel decides your case at the WSIAT.
- You may request a panel consisting of a Vice-Chair, a person from the employer community, and a person from the worker community if, for example, your case involves new or significant medical or legal issues or significant credibility findings.
Setting a hearing date
After your Workers’ Compensation Rep submit an Appeals Readiness Form (ARF) which outlines the issues under appeal and the reasons to support the request for method of resolution – oral or written – then a WSIB Hearings Scheduler will contact us to set the hearing date.
Hearings are generally scheduled within 90 days after the WSIB agrees your case will have an oral hearing.
At the WSIAT level, a letter with a proposed hearing date will be sent. If required, we must request a hearing date change within two weeks of the date of the WSIAT letter. If an interpreter was requested, the Notice of Hearing will state that the WSIAT is providing an interpreter.
Is going to a hearing like going to court?
The rules at a hearing are simpler and less formal than the rules in court. You have basic rights at a hearing as you would in court. These rights are: to attend the hearing, to have a representative, to bring witnesses, to present relevant evidence, and to question your employer and/or its witnesses if they attend the hearing. Your employer has the same rights.
Will my hearing expenses be paid?
Some costs, such as travel and related expenses, will be covered by the WSIB or the WSIAT if the hearing is held outside your own community. Travel expenses are only paid within the Province of Ontario. If you or your witnesses take time off work to attend a hearing, then the WSIB or the WSIAT will pay a limited amount.
Before the hearing
You will meet with your Workers’ Compensation Representative to review the procedure, testimony and evidence in the claim. Your Representative will be responsible for preparing the materials and evidence for the day of the hearing.
At the hearing
Your Representative and, if participating, the Employer Representative, will provide opening statements and closing summations in defense of the claim. Your role will be to provide the testimony needed to highlight the information of your claim for the ARO to make a final determination on your benefits. Where needed, witnesses will be summoned and provided testimony as well.
The structure of the hearing
Generally, hearings follow the same basic format. The parties record the hearing to serve as a record. Before turning on the recorder (or going “on record”), the decision-maker will note who is present. Generally, any witnesses will be asked to leave at this point until their testimony is required. The decision-maker will formally begin the hearing.
Hearings usually follow these steps:
- The ARO or Vice-Chair will request that all parties identify themselves for the record.
- The ARO or Vice-Chair will state the decision and issue under appeal.
- You should raise any preliminary matters, such as requests for adjournments or requests to submit additional evidence at this time. The ARO or Vice-Chair will only grant adjournments in exceptional circumstances.)
- Both parties will have a chance to make an opening statement. These statements identify what the case is about and outline the important facts they will establish. This includes the expected outcome or benefits. (But this is not the time to argue your case.)
- You will be affirmed or sworn in, which means you promise to tell the truth.
- You will provide your evidence. Then the employer or its representative will cross-question you, and the decision-makers will ask you any questions they have.
- If you feel you need to add anything to clarify your answers, you can do so at this point.
- Then, if needed, the parties will call any witnesses and follow the same procedure.
- The employer will then have an opportunity to present its witnesses in the same way.
- Finally, the parties will get a chance to make closing submissions.
Scheduled hearings are half-day or full-day. The length of the hearing will vary based on the issues under appeal and if witnesses or interpreters are participating.
When will I get a decision?
An ARO decision is anticipated to be available within 30 days. WSIAT decisions may allow from 90 days.
Oral hearing Dos & Don’ts
- Be clear and precise. Answer only the question asked.
- Stick to the point.
- Always treat all parties with respect: Be firm when necessary, but always be polite.
- Relax and be honest. Think before you speak, especially if something makes you angry or upset.
- Feel free to stand up and stretch if you need to. First though, let everyone know what you are going to do.
- Ask for an explanation if you do not understand a question or statement.
- Guess. If you do not know the answer to a question, just say so.
- Exaggerate. This can damage your credibility and take away from the truth of your story.
- Swear or use any negative language towards your employer and/or the WSIB.