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Battle of the Press Releases: WSIB and CFIB Wage PR War Over Alleged Mismanagement

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (”CFIB”) appears to have ruffled the feathers of the WSIB.  In a combative September 3, 2009 press release, the CFIB blasted the WSIB for recent financial market losses and called for an independent review of the Board as a result of what the CFIB called “…blatant mismanagement and monopolistic complacency“.   The CFIB even compared the WSIB’s situation to the recent high profile public scandals involving E-Health and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation.

The WSIB replied aggressively (particularly by the ordinarily reserved standards of a public agency) in a responding press release and accused the CFIB of “distorting the facts” and suggested that the independent business lobby group was engaging in “sabre rattling“.  The Board pointed out that CFIB has been actively participating in various WSIB consultations and argued that the Board’s financial performance compared favourably to large Canadian pension funds over the course of the economic downturn.  The Board ramped up the rhetoric and stated that it was rejecting the “armageddon approach” and suggested that the CFIB ought not to issue “…unwarranted accusations and rhetoric at a time when we need to work together.

The tone of both press releases closely resembled the approach typically taken by political parties in the heat of an election campaign.  It will be interesting to see what the next salvo in the PR battle brings.

Ryan Conlin: [email protected]