FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government today introduced legislative amendments that address the recommendations from the Report of the Task Force on WorkSafeNB. The amendments are designed to ensure that benefits for injured workers are protected while offering financial stability for the province’s employers.
The amendments will also better align New Brunswick’s workers’ compensation program with those in the rest of Canada.
“Our government recognizes the need to make changes that will allow for the long-term sustainability of our worker’s compensation system,” said Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Trevor Holder. “We fully support the recommendations of the task force and are taking swift action to implement them.”
Legislative amendments will be made to the following acts:
- the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission and Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal Act;
- the Workers’ Compensation Act; and
- the Firefighters’ Compensation Act.
Following is a summary of the amendments introduced:
- Restoring policy deference to WorkSafeNB’s board of directors;
- Clearly establishing that the intent of the workers’ compensation system is to compensate for only work-related injuries;
- Eliminating the unpaid three-day waiting period for injured workers; and
- Addressing the recovery of the Accident Fund deficit to mitigate the risk of significant increases to the assessment rates while still protecting the benefits for injured workers.
“Eliminating the unpaid wait period will provide wage loss benefits to all workers from the day following an accident, which will have a direct impact on the most vulnerable injured workers,” said Holder.
“We want to thank the provincial government for its swift action on moving the Ministerial Task Force recommendations forward,” said Haley Flaro, WorkSafeNB’s acting chairperson. “Workers’ compensation has always been about maintaining the balance between the needs of both workers and employers and this bill is a win-win for both groups. It will protect benefits for workers while also providing relief to employers as the rapid increases in workers’ compensation assessment rates will stabilize and should begin to decline.”
The Report of the Task Force on WorkSafeNB included 28 recommendations to address a number of issues within WorkSafeNB, including but not limited to rate-setting, benefits, rehabilitation, as well as improvements to the appeals process and return-to-work programs.