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Crackdown on suppressing WCB claims

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The Selinger government is cracking down on employers who attempt to suppress workers compensation claims.

A recent report by the Workers Compensation Board documented frequent instances of claim suppression by employers.

On Monday, the government introduced amendments to the Workers Compensation Act (Bill 65) to broaden worker protection by increasing penalties to employers who suppress claims. Maximum fines will rise to $50,000 from $7,500.

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.

Braun said in addition to improved enforcement, a comprehensive review of the WCB rate model is underway. Its aim is to increase injury prevention and to remove financial incentives for minimizing or suppressing claims.

Braun also announced new measures to boost workplace safety, 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.

Bill 65 was introduced Monday to coincide with the annual 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 all three political parties represented in the legislature participated in a commemorative walk from the Union Centre on Broadway to the legislative building to mark the occasion.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 29, 2014 A5

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