What follows are a list of some of the important changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act Arising from Bill 30. Also included is a powerpoint presentation with plenty of additional information. Bill 30 Presentation-1.pps
It was recognized by the panel reviewing the WCB system that the Board needed to alter its culture from a culture of denial to one focused on the needs of the injured worker. This was done through a number of specific recommendations and not one directed at “culture”itself.
- Creation of a Fair Practices Office
This office would report to the Minister of Labour and the WCB BOD. It would be charged with ensuring administrative fairness and function like a WCB Ombudsman. It is not an appeal body. The offices of the Appeals Advisors and the employer advisor equivalent will be located here. This was done to remove any suggestion of bias toward these groups because they worked for WCB.
- Refocus the Role of the Medical Consultant
WCB Medical consultants have been acting as gate keepers on WCB benefits and creating numerous medical disputes between WCB and attending physicians. In the future their role is to facilitate the treatment needs of injured workers to ensure the best possible outcome medically.
- Obligation to Return to Work
Prior to Bill 30, WCB had no legislative authority to pursue duty to accommodate issues with an employer. They now have that ability and where the employer fails to return an injured worker to work, can impose administrative penalties on the employer for failing to do so. In return, an injured worker is expected to cooperate with efforts to return them to work or they can have their benefits suspended for non-compliance.
- Vocational Rehabilitation Services
This entire process is to be overhauled to create a more meaningful and focused approach to returning an injured worker to gainful employment in the market place. Deemed employment will be based on an accurate reflection of the Alberta labour market and not fantasy employment opportunities.
- Expansion of Presumptive coverage for PTSD
This coverage is being expanded to cover Corrections Officers and 911 Dispatchers.
- Removal of the WCB CAP on Benefits
An injured workers benefits for wage replacement and vocational services have been Capped at $98,700. Under Bill 30 this Cap has been removed and benefits will now be based on an injured workers actual wages. This is very similar to what has been done in Manitoba.
A lump sum of $40,000 will now be paid on all fatal claims accepted by the WCB. This brings the Alberta WCB in line with other jurisdictions in Canada.
Effective September 2018 under Bill 30, injured workers will continue to have their health benefit coverage through their employment provided they were in receipt of these benefits at the time of accident.
The window to appeal a WCB decision has been increased to two years.
WCB legislation now provides the Board with the authority to collect injury data for OH&S purposes. This is in keeping with a Canada wide initiative to have OH&S data harmonization for all provinces and territories.
Mental health conditions arising from bullying and harassment are addressed under WCB policy for psychological and psychiatric conditions.
- Compensation Benefits for Young Workers
WCB now has the ability to adjust earnings for young workers suffering catastrophic injuries to be based on the average Alberta earnings for the year prior to the date of accident.