A quick update on some current policy consultations and legislative reviews across Canada:
Alberta – In November, the first comprehensive government review of the Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board in 15 years “found a system with delays and an overly aggressive emphasis on returning to work, that’s moving away from the “no-fault principle” … See the WCB Review Panel’s Progress Report “Working Together” and commentary by Labour relations professor Bob Barnetson. Submissions to the public consultation close in January 2017, to be followed by a symposium on data in the WCB system. The final report and recommendations are due in spring 2017.
British Columbia – a policy consultation on the Permanent Disability Evaluation Schedules 2016 Review is scheduled to be completed this month. The WCB is also working on separate policy reviews of chronic pain policies, range of motion assessment method and the measurement of earnings loss [discussion paper].
Manitoba – a government-appointed review committee began three months of public consultations in mid-November on the Workers Compensation Act (a comprehensive review of the Act is required by law every 10 years). Submissions close Feb. 15, with a report to be presented before the end of June 2017.
New Brunswick – following completion of the Comprehensive Review of the New Brunswick Workers’ Compensation Legislation in 2015, changes to WorkSafeNB’s law and policies were introduced in November. These stated aims of these amendments: creating a more effective appeals tribunal, improving governance and investment of pension funds.
Nova Scotia – The second stage of Nova Scotia’s Workers Compensation Board policy consultation on pre-existing conditions got underway in October, with feedback requested by Jan. 2017 on the draft new policy and proposed changes.
Saskatchewan – the government’s WCB Committee of Review, legislated to review the Workers’ Compensation Act every 4 years, has just reported [see Report with recommendations]. Further consultations on the 3 changes requiring changes to the law will be held early 2017, while the Board is currently reviewing the recommendations on policy. Other recent developments: Bill 93 purported to establish a presumption for all forms of psychological injury incurred through work; recommendations on a revised model for calculating premium rates (Eckler report) are to be implemented in 2018. The WCB is also looking to change its funding model, with a discussion paper to distributed in mid-December for consultation with employers. Current policy requires the Board to maintain between a five- and 20-per-cent surplus above its liability, and that if it goes above 20 per cent, the board will then decide how much of the money to return to employers.