Ron Saunders

Co-Investigator; Lead-Communications Team

“The establishment of the CRWDP provides an opportunity to realize the potential of disabled Canadians to contribute to the economy by improving the coherence of work disability policies and programs in Canada. I’m glad to be a part of this important initiative.”

Key Appointments

  • Director, Knowledge Transfer and Exchange (KTE), and Senior Scientist at the Institute for Work and Health
  • Associate Professor in the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto
  • Past Vice-President of Research at Canadian Policy Research Networks (CPRN)
  • Past Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy, Communications, and Labour Management Services Division, Ontario Ministry of Labour


  • PhD, Economics, Harvard University
  • BA in economics from the University of Toronto

Areas of expertise

Dr. Ron Saunders is a policy expert with a passion for labour issues. He has coupled these two interests throughout his career, whether working in the public service, academia or applied research. His research interests have focused on vulnerable workers and the changing labour market. Ron spent 17 years in the Ontario public service, most notably as the Assistant Deputy Minister of Policy, Communications and Labour Management Services in the Ministry of Labour.

Research Activities

Saunders’ current research interests include: worker health in non-standard employment relationships; literacy and worker health and safety; the implications of demographic trends (such as an aging workforce and the increased participation of newcomers in the labour force) on occupational health and safety; and the impact of KTE activities/programs. He is also involved in identifying and disseminating the policy implications of IWH research for decision-makers.


Refereed Publications:

Smith P, Bielecky A, Ibrahim S, Mustard C, Saunders R, Beaton D, Koehoorn M, McLeod C, Scott-Marshall H, Hogg-Johnson S. How important are pre-existing chronic conditions on age differences in wage replacement following a musculoskeletal work injury? A path analysis approach. Submitted to Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health.

Smith P, Bielecky A, Ibrahim S, Mustard C, Scott-Marshall H, Saunders R, Beaton D (2013) How much do pre-existing chronic conditions contribute to age differences in health care expenditures following a work-related musculoskeletal injury? (in press) Medical Care

Smith P., Bielecky A, Mustard C, Beaton D, Hogg-Johnson S, Ibrahim S, Koehoorn M, McLeod C, Saunders R, Scott-Marshall H. The relationship between age and work injury in British Columbia: examining differences across time and nature of injury. Journal of Occupational Health 2013; 55:98-107.

Tompa, E., Hogg-Johnson S., Amick B., Wang Y., Shen E., Mustard C., Robson L., Saunders R., “Financial Incentives of Experience Rating in Workers’ Compensation: New Evidence from a Program Change in Ontario, Canada,” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 2013; [Epub ahead of print]

MacEachen, E., Lippel, K., Saunders, R., Kosny, A., Mansfield, L., Carrasco, C., Pugliese, D.,  “Workers’ compensation experience rating rules and the danger to worker safety in the temporary work agency sector,” Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 10:1 (May 2012), 77-95.

Lippel, K., MacEachen, E., Werhun, N., Saunders, R., Kosny, A., Mansfield, L., Carrasco, C., Pugliese, D., “Legal protections governing occupational health and safety and workers’ compensation of temporary employment agency workers in Canada: reflections on regulatory effectiveness,” Policy and Practice in Health and Safety, 9:2 (November 2011), 69-90.

Non-Refereed Publications:

Institute for Work & Health. “The increasing share of work-related injuries registered as no-lost-time claims in Ontario, 1991-2006.” Issue Briefing series, no. 9. August 2011. (Prepared by R. Saunders)

Institute for Work & Health. “Examining the Adequacy of Workers’ Compensation Benefits.” Issue Briefing series, no. 8. April 2011. (Prepared by R. Saunders)

Institute for Work & Health. “Shift Work and Health.” Issue Briefing series, no. 6. April 2010. (Prepared by R. Saunders)

Institute for Work & Health. “Unemployment and Mental Health.” Issue Briefing series, no. 3. August  2009. (Prepared by R. Saunders)

Institute for Work & Health. “Workers’ Compensation and the Business Cycle.” IWH Issue Briefing series, no. 1. March 2009. (Prepared by R. Saunders)


“Improving knowledge exchange through dialogue with influential knowledge users”. Canadian Knowledge Mobilization Forum, Toronto, June 4, 2013

“Globalization and the Changing Nature of Work in Canada,” Conference of McGill Institute for Health and Social Policy, Global Strategies: Improving the Conditions of the Working Poor, Montreal, May 1, 2008.

Research Grants – Awarded

Steenstra IA (PI), Lowe G, McIntosh G, Saunders R, Chappel J, Geary J, White M, Beaton DE, Gignac M, Gross D, Irvin E, Loisel P,  Pransky G, Puts M, Scott-Marshall H, Tompa E, Van Eerd D, Wilkie R. A review of the role of aging in return to work and stay at work. CIHR Knowledge Synthesis Grant: Sep 2013-Sep 2014 for $89,622.

Tompa E, MacEachen E(Co-PIs), Banting K, Baril-Gingras G, Bornstein S, Boucher N, Calvert J, Cooke G, Côté P, Dawe D, de Boer C, Dewa C, Facey M, Gewurtz R,  Gold D, Grignon M, Heymann J,  Holness L, Koehoorn M, Laberge M,  Latimer E, Loisel P, McLeod C,  Montreuil S, Neis B, Noël A, Ostry A, Premji S, Provencher Y, Rioux M,  Saunders R, Shaw L, Small S,  Zeytinoglu I. Income security and labour market engagement: Envisioning the future of disability policy in Canada. SSHRC Partners Grant: 2013-2020 for $2,760,782.

Van Eerd D, Irvin E, King T, Saunders R, Brenneman-Gibson J. An assessment of knowledge transfer and exchange: researcher and stakeholder perspectives. Workplace Safety & Insurance Board Research Advisory Council. $38,030 for 1 year.

Tompa E, Saunders R, Mustard C. Impairment and work disability of workers' compensation claimants in Ontario, a cohort study of new claimants from 1998-2006. CIHR. $204, 685 over 2.5 years.

Tompa E (P.I.), Scott-Marshall H, Ballantyne P, Saunders R, Hogg-Johnson S. Work injury and poverty: Investigating prevalence across programs and over time. Workplace Safety & Insurance Board Research Advisory Council. $88,160 over 2 years.

Kosny A. (P.I.), Breslin C, Saunders R, Smith, PM. Prevention is the Best Medicine: Developing a tool to share information about workplace rights, occupation health and safety and workers’ compensation with new immigrant workers in Ontario. Workplace Safety & Insurance Board Research Advisory Council. $40,046 for 1 year.

Smith PM (P.I.), Beaton DE, Hogg-Johnson S, Ibrahim S, Mustard C, Saunders R, Scott-Marshall H. Examining determinants and consequences of work-injuries among older workers. WorkSafeBC Research at Work.  $225,000 for 2 years.

MacEachen E (P.I.), Kosny A, Lippel K, Saunders R. Understanding the management of prevention and return to work in temporary work agencies. Workplace Safety & Insurance Board Research Advisory Council.  $208,941 for 2.5 years.

Contact Information

Ron Saunders