Many injured workers in Ontario are being given an ultimatum: take potentially addictive cocktails of opioids and other pharmaceuticals, or pay for your own help, a CBC Toronto investigation has revealed.
Insurers like Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) are frequently refusing to help injured workers who want to turn to seemingly less harmful drugs like medical marijuana.
“We have an opioid epidemic here in Canada,” said Maurice Sagle, 60, a former carpenter.
“I’m thinking [the WSIB] better get out of the past.”
For it’s part, the WSIB says it’s reducing the number of drug claims for opioids and deals with requests for medical pot “on a case-by-case basis.”
Sagle’s spine was compressed, some of his discs were shattered, his left leg muscle was ruptured and his arch was flattened in 2016 when a roof truss fell on his shoulder.
He says the WSIB has agreed to pay for the thousands of dollars in opioids he’s been prescribed, but won’t pay a cent for medical marijuana.
‘The more you do, the more you want to do’
Sagle says the opioids left him dazed, depressed and often unable to leave his home. He says he was becoming increasingly unsociable and felt he was becoming addicted.
“The more you do, the more you want to do” said Sagle. “To me it was very dangerous stuff. It was pretty well controlling my life. I said, ‘I need to get my life back, I need to do something about this.'”