The Selinger government has introduced legislation targeting employers who attempt to suppress workers compensation claims.
A recent report by the Workers Compensation Board documented frequent instances of claim suppression by employers. The proposed amendments to the Workers Compensation Act (Bill 65) would broaden worker protection by increasing penalties to employers who engage in claim suppression. Maximum fines would be increased to $50,000 from $7,500 for infractions under the Act.
Bill 65 would also require an employer who takes "discriminatory action" against a worker to prove the action was unrelated to the worker making a WCB claim.
"We know from WCB research that claim suppression is happening far too often, to far too many workers," said Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun.
She said "new staff and resources" are being put in place to investigate allegations of claim suppression. The amendments under Bill 65 will complement that work, she said.
Braun also announced new measures to support safe workplaces, including a new mobile unit for workplace health and safety officers, a new serious-injury support-worker position in the Worker Advisor Office, and Manitoba’s first-annual leadership conference for safety and health committees.
The introduction of Bill 65 was made to coincide with Monday’s Day of Mourning in memory of those who have died or suffered an injury or illness as a result of their work. Last year, 13 Manitobans died on the job.
MLAs from the three main political parties participated in a commemorative walk from the Union Centre on Broadway to the legislative building to mark the occasion.
Braun said that in addition to improved enforcement, a comprehensive review of the WCB rate model is underway. Its aim is increased injury prevention and the removal of financial incentives to minimize or suppress claims. This review includes consultation with stakeholders, who will be asked their views on effective incentives to adopt meaningful injury prevention practices and programs, the government said.