In early 2018, Paul Petrie – former Vice Chair of the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal – was contracted to prepare a report to the Board of Directors of the Workers’ Compensation Board (the “Board”). His report was to assess, in relation to other Canadian jurisdictions, whether the current Board benefit levels fully reflect the financial losses suffered by injured workers. In addition, he was asked to recommend possible changes to the Rehabilitation Services and Claims Manual, Volume II (the “Claims Manual”) to ensure a worker centred approach wherever practical. The Claims Manual contains claims policies that are binding on decision makers under the Workers Compensation Act (the “Act”).
On March 31, 2018, Mr. Petrie provided his Report – Restoring the Balance: A Worker- Centred Approach to Workers’ Compensation Policy – to the Board of Directors. On April 25, 2018 the Board published the Report.
In his Report, Mr. Petrie describes the focus of his review as identifying policy options, within the bounds of the current legislation, to ensure a worker-centred approach. Describing the concept of a “worker-centred approach” on page 10 of his Report, Mr. Petrie states:
“A worker-centred approach for injured and disabled workers is one that takes into consideration the worker’s individual circumstances in applying policy and making decisions about benefit entitlement and rehabilitation measures. It is designed to maximize the worker’s recovery from the injury or disease and to restore as close as possible the worker to his pre-injury employment status without a loss of earnings.”
Among the 41 recommendations in Mr. Petrie’s Report, are significant recommendations regarding chronic pain, mental disorders, and loss of earnings, all of which will be of particular interest to Employers. We will explore each of these topics in a subsequent article.
Mr. Petrie suggested that the Board initiate an independent review of whether employers engage in actions bordering on “claims suppression”. Mr. Petrie also recommended that the Board initiate a review of whether workers should be entitled to interest where there has been a significant delay in the payment of compensation. Both these issues could have implications for Employers and should be monitored closely.
The Report can be viewed here.
For questions relating to this article, please contact Alan D. Winter