Unifor has identified four areas of concern and is providing input to the task force appointed to review the New Brunswick’s Worker’s Compensation system.
“There is something seriously wrong with the system when employers can reap millions in rebates and reduced premiums when there has been little improvement in workplace safety and when workers are still being killed and injured on the job,” said Lana Payne, Unifor’s Atlantic Regional Director.
In the last six years, employers have received $134 million in ‘rebates’ while 79 workers were killed due to workplace accidents or occupational illness.
A nine member task force was announced in May to look at short and long term solutions to make the system sustainable. Unifor wants the task force to understand that the workers’ compensation system is not private insurance for employers and its focus must be fair and just compensation for injured workers.
- No rebates should be considered unless there are demonstrable improvements to the Health and Safety culture of the workplace, as determined by an accredited audit process.
- The 110% funding legislation is being eroded by the Board’s policy of distributing all excess funds as rebates. The Funding level must reach 125% before rebates are considered and shared with workers and employers given the recent, erratic rebates.
- The cuts to benefits starting in 1993 have not been restored while employer assessments have been drastically reduced. Eliminate the 3-day waiting period.
- Keep the WCAT independent to uphold the spirit of the Meredith Principles of Natural Justice to injured workers.
Employers benefit from this low cost insurance which protects them from liability, but it is not a tool for economic policy, and employers have the power to reduce premiums by reducing accidents said Payne.
The union believes the funding review should not consider transferring costs to the public health care system or relieving employers of part or all of the liability of occupational disease because that would fundamentally undermine the workers’ compensation system.