Workers' compensation experience in some Indigenous Northern Ontario communities

Nancy Lightfoot, Darrel Manitowabi, Victoria Arrandale, Nathaniel Barnett, Carmen Wabegijig-Nootchtai, Mary Lynn Odjig, Jeff Moulton, Julie Fongemy, Michel Larivière, Zsuzsanna Kerekes, Linn Holness, Leigh MacEwan, Tammy Eger, Wayne Warry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: There is a dearth of research about occupational health and safety experience in Indigenous communities and compensation applications from Indigenous workers appear limited. OBJECTIVE: This qualitative descriptive study was designed to explore workers' compensation experiences in some Canadian Indigenous communities. METHODS: A community-based participatory research approach was used to conduct focus groups (n = 25 participants) in three Northeastern Ontario (NEO) Indigenous communities and at one NEO Indigenous employment centre. Semi-structured focus group questions addressed community experience with workers' compensation, the compensation process, and discussion of a training session about the process. Reflexive thematic analysis followed Braun and Clarke procedures. RESULTS: Discussion with study participants resulted in these themes: 1) both lack of knowledge, and knowledge, about compensation demonstrated, 2) impact of lack of compensation coverage and need for universal coverage on reserve, 3) need for community training sessions about workers' compensation, 4) workload and financial impact of workers' compensation on reserve, and 5) requirement for cultural competence training in the compensation board. CONCLUSIONS: This qualitative descriptive study revealed the: need for more information about applying for workers' compensation and navigating the process, need for universal workplace insurance coverage in Indigenous communities, demand for community-based compensation process training, community costs of compensation, and the requirement for cultural safety and competence training for compensation organization employees. More education about the workers' compensation process would be of benefit to leadership, health care providers, administrative personnel, employers, and employees on reserves. Nurses in community health centres are well situated to provide further guidance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)707-717
Number of pages11
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge all participants and communities for taking part in this qualitative study. The authors are grateful for financial support of this work from the Ontario Ministry of Labour Research Opportunities Program Grant Number: 16-R-020. J. Fongemy works for the Ontario Ministry of Labour but was not on the grant application and her role on the study was to supply much of the educational material about how to apply for worker’s compensation. N. Lightfoot was on the grant panel that reviewed grant applications, but was not part of discussions and decisions about this grant.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022-IOS Press. All rights reserved.


  • Qualitative descriptive
  • aboriginal
  • cultural safety
  • indigenous

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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