Worker’s Compensation Board Under Review
In March 2016, the Alberta Government announced that it would be conducting a review of the province’s workers’ compensation system. Although the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) is not a government agency per se, the WCB was created by the Alberta Government to administer the Workers’ Compensation Act and as such, is responsible to ensure the WCB is operating as fairly, efficiently and effectively as possible.
To that end, an independent three-member panel is conducting a formal review of the entire workers’ compensation system, including the WCB, the Appeals Commission and the Medical Panel Office. As part of the review, the Panel is looking at how things are done, how effective the process is, what is working, what is not, what needs to be improved and what needs to be changed. From June 6, 2016 to July 15, 2016, the Review Panel asked for input from Albertans to share their opinions and experiences with the WCB through questionnaires and submissions. Information was gathered from all interested parties including workers, employers, labour unions, health & safety organizations, medical personnel and any other interested Albertans.
The Panel reviewed the submissions and noted key areas of concern and interest. On November 9, 2016, the Working Together: Progress Report was released summarizing the findings of the panel to date, identifying the areas of focus and outlining what steps will be taken next.
What the Panel noted was that there were strong opinions and diverse perspectives regarding the workers’ compensation system and that further input and review is necessary before any recommendations can be made. As such, the Panel has met with and will continue to meet with various interest groups and key stakeholders, over the next few weeks, to gather additional insight and input.
Of particular interest in the initial rounds of discussions was the Accident Fund and how it handles excess surpluses. It is our understanding that some stakeholders (workers, worker representatives and unions primarily) believe that any surplus should be used for worker benefit and program enhancements, however, we heard employers voice the opinion that the surplus was created from the premiums they paid therefore it should be returned to them. This issue is one that the Panel is very interested in getting additional perspectives and opinions from stakeholders before making any recommendations to the government on this matter.
Currently, the Panel is sharing various organizations submissions that have been used as part of their review and although the initial period to submit questionnaires and written submissions has passed, the Panel will continue to accept final thoughts up to January 9th, 2017.
The final report and recommendations of the Panel was produced for the Government of Alberta in the spring of 2017 and recommendations were implemented over the 2018 calendar year.
The WCB is constantly reviewing legislation and policy with a focus to improve the workers compensation system. So, if you feel you have something to contribute to a WCB Review, wish to participate in the Review process, are looking for updates or further details, you can check out the “Legislative changes” and/or “What’s new in policy?” sections of the WCB Alberta website.
For further information on WCB Legislation or Policy Reviews or should you wish to discuss any aspect in further detail, contact us directly at [email protected], [email protected], by phone, at 1-844-377-9545 or you can connect with us on Facebook ,Twitter , or LinkedIn.