WORKERS COMPENSATION ACT REVIEW COMMITTEE
The Winnipeg Chamber of Commence supports safe, healthy and productive workplaces. However, when a workplace incident occurs, members of The Chamber and members of the business community expect the Workers Compensation Board to provide a reasonable level of support and service to injured workers to ensure an early and safe return to the workplace. The Chamber expects a compensation process that respects both the dignity and privacy of injured workers while, at the same time, functions in a fiduciary and financially prudent manner.
The Chamber also supports the premise of fairness and balance and where appropriate, an expedited process of claim management to facilitate return to work, as soon as medically possible. The Chamber will not support and will take great exception to a system that embraces Workers Compensation Board policies and/or legislation that create imbalances that disadvantage either workers or employers.
The Chamber believes that the Meredith principles should form the basis of this review and must apply to any amendment of the act. As well, The Chamber supports cost containment and cost management, that is, any changes in benefits under the act, after factoring in economic equalization, should not be out of balance with those seen in other jurisdictions.
The Chamber recognizes the importance of transparency, accountability and fairness in a compensation system. For this reason, any changes that result from the review of the act must be reasonable, practical and sensitive to the needs of all stakeholders.
Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce Recommendations:
- Amend the Workers Compensation Act to remove a loophole under which directors of covered employers can be sued by an injured worker (or by the Workers Compensation Board on their behalf) for additional damages.
- Give the Appeal Commission the right to designate a deemed employer, for the purposes of an appeal, where the employer in the appeal is defunct (no longer in business or no longer covered by the act).
- Identify in the act a process for consultation on policy development
- Encourage consultation between the Workers Compensation Board and the employer community (The Chamber / Employers Task Force / Manitoba Employers Council) prior to establishing assessment rates, budgets or investment strategies for the forthcoming year.
- Conduct an independent audit every five years on the Workers Compensation Board to coincide with the board’s five-year planning process. The audit results should be subject to public disclosure.
- Conduct a review, independent of government, to determine the appropriateness of Workers Compensation Board-funded programs and entities that do not reflect the “spirit” of the act or the Meredith Principles.
- Base any consideration for expansion of coverage in other industries on risk factors and injury experience, and make the decision in consultation.
- Do not change existing legislation/practice related to stress. The current definition of acceptable stress is fair, reasonable and consistent with the majority of jurisdictions throughout Canada.
- Continue to factor in “dominant cause” – Section 4(4) of the act – as an integral part of determining the work relatedness of occupational diseases.
- Evaluate occupational disease claims on a case-by-case basis versus a “schedule of occupational diseases.”
- Structure the role of the Workers Compensation Board chair to be similar to that of other Manitoba Crown corporations and make it a part-time position, in which the chair is compensated on a per-diem basis for attendance at board meetings, plus reasonable compensation for additional meetings, consultations or preparatory time. The chair should be limited to the role defined by the Workers Compensation Act – a non-voting chair of board meetings with no administrative role at the board office.
Adopted by The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce board of directors, May 2004