Workers' Compensation History Project

Welcome to a timeline of workers' compensation history. This is a collaborative project-in- progress, created in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the release of Sir William Meredith's final report with principles and options for providing just compensation for the injured worker.

1661-01-01 00:00:00

Pirates - hazard insurance

Pirate ships frequently operated with an equitable compensation system for injury "at work"

1793-01-01 00:00:00

War pensions

Disability benefits for soldiers injured in the course of their duties helped form social attitudes

1838-01-01 00:00:00

Prussian Railroad Law

While originally intended for injured passengers and landowners, Prussian courts reinterpreted the Act to cover injured workers.

1884-07-06 00:00:00

Accident Bill

Otto Von Bismarck's social insurance program introduces the world's first state-run workers' compensation system.

1886-01-01 00:00:00

Ontario Workmen’s Compensation for Injuries Act

Under new legislation claims for compensation continue to be made through the courts and depend on fault

1897-01-01 00:00:00

Workmen's Compensation Act, 1897

The new law gave workers a no-fault alternative to common law claims against the employer.

1900-01-01 00:00:00

Workers’ Compensation for Accidents Act 1900

By 1891 there were more deaths from work-related accidents in N.Z. than in Britain..

1900-02-01 00:00:00

Australia introduces workers' compensation acts

Using the British 1897 Act as a model, South Australia in 1900 becomes the first state to pass workers' compensation legislation.

1906-01-01 00:00:00

New British Act extends coverage

The 1906 Workmen's Compensation Act addresses some shortcomings of the 1897 Act.

1908-01-01 00:00:00

U.S. Federal Employers' Liability Law

President Roosevelt calls for US workers’ compensation legislation

1910-01-01 00:00:00

Meredith Commission Begins

Labour movement pressure and business discontent with "this nuisance of litigation" lead government to consider new policies for compensation of workplace accidents which continue to climb at alarming rates.

1911-01-01 00:00:00

State workers' compensation laws

Economic interests of employers and social change influence most states to adopt workers' compensation laws between 1911 and 1920.

1913-01-01 00:00:00

Meredith Report released

Report proposes the "historic compromise" and principles that form the basis for Canada's workers compensation systems

1914-01-01 00:00:00

World War I begins

The "war to end all wars" saw almost one-third of soldiers return wounded. Industrial injuries were also heavy

1914-01-01 00:00:00

Canada's workers' compensation

With Ontario's 1914 Act, provinces start introducing laws based on Meredith's principles.

1915-01-01 00:00:00

Ontario WCB established

With Ontario's 1914 Act in effect Jan. 1915, the WCB sets up in offices in St James Square in the Normal School buildings.

1928-01-01 00:00:00

Quebec enacts new workers' compensation act

Quebec introduces an "Act respecting industrial accidents" and creates the Commission des accidents du travail du Quebec.

1929-01-01 00:00:00

The Great Depression Begins

The economic collapse brought greater awareness individuals were not always able to provide for their own financial security.

1929-01-01 00:00:00

Saskatchewan adopts no-fault system

Anderson Royal Commission recommends Saskatchewan adopt the Meredith compensation system.

1932-01-01 00:00:00

Justice W. E. Middleton’s Report

Commission called in the Depression years proves a huge disappointment to injured workers

1946-01-01 00:00:00

UK changes its compensation system

The Beveridge Report gives rise to a system of social security following WII, including the National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Act of 1946

1949-01-01 00:00:00

PEI passes workmen's compensation act

PEI becomes the ninth province to enact workers' compensation legislation

1950-01-01 00:00:00

Justice W. D. Roach's Report

In his review Roach warns against expanding the Act into "social legislation"

1960-01-01 00:00:00

Hogg's Hollow Disaster

Construction tragedy leads to reform of Ontario's safety and labour laws

1967-01-01 00:00:00

Justice G. A. McGillivray’s Report

Third major review of Ontario's system called as the number of back injuries rises sharply and blame placed on "careless worker"

1967-01-01 09:45:54

The Woodhouse Report

Royal Commission recommends a no-fault independently-administered accident compensation system

1969-01-01 00:00:00

Injured Workers’ Consultants Founded

Legal clinic opens in Cabbagetown church building with the help of Allan Baldwin

1972-01-01 00:00:00

Health & safety rights

Saskatchewan leads the way in North American In legislating three important rights for workers in its Occupational Health Act

1972-01-01 00:00:00

National Commission on State Workmen's Compensation Laws

Report calls U.S. state laws "in general neither adequate nor equitable"

1972-01-01 10:24:02

NZ's Accident Compensation Act 1972

The 1972 and 1973 Amendment Act integrate workers' compensation into a comprehensive, compulsory, national, no-fault accident insurance compensation system.

1973-01-01 00:00:00

The Aird Task Force

Newspapers articles on "deplorable state" of WCB prompt major investigation

1973-01-01 00:00:00

Medical report outrage

Assessment by Ontario WCB medical consultant illustrates social attitudes and barriers facing injured workers

1973-01-01 00:00:00

IAVGO established

Industrial Accident Victims' Group of Ontario, a new community clinic serving injured workers, sets up in Toronto

1974-01-01 00:00:00

Union of Injured Workers Organized

Increasingly frustrated with their treatment by the Board, injured workers organize

1974-01-01 00:00:00

Elliot Lake uranium miners (USW local 5762) strike

Outrageous conditions in Ontario mines lead to Ham Commission and major advances in OH&S

1974-01-01 00:00:00

National scheme proposed

Based on the 1974 Woodhouse Committee report, Australia looks at establishing a comprehensive national no-fault compensation system

1978-01-01 00:00:00

Wyatt Report

Wegenast's revenge? Private insurance philosophy marks major shift from Meredith principles.

1978-01-01 00:00:00

Ministry of Labour Ruckus

7 arrested in clash over WCB pensions at Toronto ministry offices

1980-01-01 00:00:00

Paul Weiler’s Reports

Three reports issued 1980-1986 by law professor and former chair of BC's Labour Relations Board, influence the future direction of Ontario system

1981-01-01 00:00:00

Ison Critique of Weiler Reports

"Brokerage politics - disabled people have no bargaining power"

1981-01-01 09:45:54

Women workers' challenges recognized?

In 1981 Quebec's compensation system provides unique Safe Maternity Experience Program, with protective reassignment & preventive withdrawal benefits

1983-01-01 00:00:00

National Day of Mourning

Launched by the Canadian Labour Congress in 1983, over 80 countries now recognize April 28

1983-06-01 00:00:00

Injured Workers' Day

They came to the Legislature in such numbers the Parliamentary Committee was forced to hold its public hearings outdoors

1984-01-01 00:00:00

Thunder Bay Injured Workers Support Group Formed

Northern Ontario group formed in response to Bill 101 continues to play a major role in law reform and community organizing

1984-01-01 00:00:00

Royal Commission on Asbestos Use in Ontario Matters of Health and Safety Arising from the Use of Asbestos

Commission chair reports Johns-Manville Ontario plant created "a world-class occupational health disaster"

1985-01-01 00:00:00

Bill 81 - Full Cost of Living Adjustment

Minister of Labour promises injured workers "no more cap in hand"!

1985-01-01 00:00:00

Quebec introduces radical reforms

An "Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases," replacing the Workers' Compensation Act, comes into force.

1986-01-01 00:00:00

Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal

New external independent Appeals Tribunal is created through Ontario's Bill 101

1986-01-01 00:00:00

Task Force on Vocational Rehabilitation

Ontario Injured workers' call for VR as a right is heeded by Task Force in report "An injury to one is an injury to all" (Aug. 1987)

1988-01-01 00:00:00

Storming of Legislative Assembly of Ontario

"It began with a wild melee on the red carpet of the Ontario Legislature...Their anger was transmitted across the province" (Toronto Star, Oct. 27 1988)

Workers' Compensation History Project

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