Labour Minister responds to External Review of Workers Compensation Board Rate System

The following is a news release from the Minister of Family Services and Labour:

Three reports that are part of a wide-ranging review of workplace injury and illness prevention will be used to create the Manitoba government’s new Action Plan for Workplace Injury and Illness Prevention, Family Services and Labour Minister Jennifer Howard announced today.

“These three reports describe Manitobans’ workplace experiences and make it clear that, while we have made progress ensuring workers make it home safely at the end of the day, we still have a lot of work to do to,” said Howard. “Specifically, the reports show there are instances of employers discouraging injured workers from making compensation claims. This is illegal and our government will do more to prevent it from happening including legislative changes to increase penalties for claim suppression and to make it easier to submit legitimate claims.”

The minister said the reports, which were written following a six-month consultation period with workers, employers and technical experts, will be used to develop Manitoba’s new Action Plan for Workplace Injury and Illness Prevention, expected to be released later this month.

The reports come from the Minister’s Advisory Council on Workplace Safety and Health, Manitoba’s chief prevention officer for workplace safety and health, and Paul Petrie, a British Columbia-based expert on worker compensation systems who completed a review of the impact of the current Workers Compensation Board (WCB) experience-rating system on claim reporting and claim suppression, and identified strategies to promote injury and disease prevention.

The Petrie report identifies problems with claim reporting, claim suppression and aggressive return‑to-work practices, and recommends higher penalties for claim-reporting violations and a greater emphasis on prevention incentives.

“Manitoba’s current experience-rating system emphasizes claims cost control after an injury occurs,” said Petrie. “My recommendations are designed to minimize claims suppression activity where it exists, to provide incentives to prevent injuries wherever possible and, where injuries do occur, to restore the worker to safe, productive employment as soon as practical.”

“An incentive program should encourage employers to reduce costs by making work places safer, not hiding injuries.”

 

The minister said she has asked the WCB to review Petrie’s recommendations and create a plan to take action on them this fall.

“The Petrie report makes it clear we can do more for employers who are committed to preventing injury in their workplaces by providing them lower WCB rates, but there are better ways to measure that commitment than only counting the number of compensation claims submitted,” said Howard. “An incentive program should encourage employers to reduce costs by making work places safer, not hiding injuries.”

Howard said Manitoba Workplace Safety and Health worked with the Minister’s Advisory Council on Workplace Safety and Health to complete a thorough review of the Workplace Safety and Health Act. She added Manitoba’s chief prevention officer for workplace safety and health worked with MLA Dave Gaudreau to complete a comprehensive review of injury and illness prevention services to ensure that workers and employers have the tools they need to make their workplaces safer. Five themes emerged from those reports:

  • making Manitoba a leader in preventing workplace injury;
  • ensuring all workers receive appropriate training on safe work practices, with a focus on those workers most at risk for injury, such as young people and newcomers;
  • providing better training, and easier access to information and services for employers working to make their workplaces safer;
  • allowing greater flexibility and innovation in dealing with emerging workplace issues like mental health and violence; and
  • ensuring that workplace safety and health officials are using all tools to enforce workplace safety laws including fines, stop-work orders and criminal prosecutions.

“Manitoba’s action plan will ensure the needed dedicated resources are provided to prevent workplace injuries, and to ensure workplace safety and health training and services are of the highest standard possible so that Manitobans are able to get the support they need,” said Howard. “The action plan will also focus on creating more resources, particularly for new and young workers and small businesses. Manitobans have told us these are important steps we need to take to make our workplaces safer.”

Information on the workplace injury and illness prevention reports are available on the Manitoba Family Services and Labour website.

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