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Suppression is rampant

In his Nov. 20 column, Modern workforce needs new illness, injury insurance, Graham Lane dismisses concerns that incentives in the Workers Compensation Board rate assessment model are encouraging many employers to suppress workplace injuries and deny fair compensation to injured workers. Unfortunately, his claims don't stand up to scrutiny.

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In response to workers' complaints that too many employers are preventing or discouraging injured workers from filing compensation claims, Lane downplays such abuses as a rare occurrence. Yet earlier this year, an expert external review of Manitoba's Workers Compensation Board (WCB) found "persuasive evidence of under-reporting of claims and claims-suppression activities."

Similarly, in Ontario which has a similar rate-assessment model, an independent study commissioned by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board said, "the most important conclusion to be drawn from the research is that claim suppression appears to be a real problem."

To the extent that Lane admits claim suppression occurs at all, he asserts "the penalties against the employer are significant enough to promote good behaviour." In fact, the penalty for claims suppression is a mere $450, significantly less than the amounts an employer can save by suppressing claims.

More important, as the Free Press reported on Oct. 8, documents obtained through freedom of information reveal Manitoba's WCB has never once penalized an employer for claim suppression.

Lane defends the status quo WCB rate-assessment model by asserting it "promotes workplace health and safety." The author of Manitoba's recent external review of the WCB came to a very different conclusion: "I found little persuasive evidence that the assessment rate model provided a substantial direct incentive to develop and implement effective safety programs."

Even a 2011 internal WCB report to its board of directors admitted, "there is no connection between the rate model and employers choosing to implement accredited safety and health programs."

On the contrary, the external review found the rate model actually encourages claims suppression and management "at the expense of resources that would otherwise be available for safety programs."

For all of these reasons, workers are calling for a WCB rate-assessment model that promotes genuine workplace injury and illness prevention.


Manitoba Federation of Labour


Paper, please, not cyberspace

Regarding your Nov. 19 poll question, "What would you like to see in terms of new development at The Forks?", I would like to see the responses in the print edition.

Instead, on Nov. 20, you ran a Blippar icon to scan. I still do not know the results of the poll, since I do not have anything to scan the response.



What's in Ford's pipe?

From what I understand after reading your Nov. 18 feature, Sick or stupid?, Rob Ford is in trouble because he has abused a chemical drug.

Would he be in this much doo-doo had he had marijuana in his pipe or a glass of wine in his hand at a staff Christmas party?




It wouldn't surprise me if a Rob Ford mask isn't next Halloween's biggest seller.

I bet the brothers Ford have already placed an order for thousands of them.




Your Nov. 19 editorial cartoon was great. It gave us our morning laugh with the depiction of Rob Ford and the kitchen knives.

That cartoon should be sent to The Walrus, Canada's New Yorker.




I'm confused. Rob Ford admits to smoking illegal drugs and the media want him to resign. Yet Justin Trudeau admits to smoking illegal drugs and the media want him as prime minister.

There seems to be a double standard here.



Good news about ethanol

Finally, one government is coming to a realization and is in the process of making a correct decision about ethanol (Americans rethink their love affair with ethanol, Nov. 19).

We utilize and waste vast amounts of finite water in this process and using a source of food to produce ethanol is, to me, a sacrilege.

Hopefully, this will be a cue for other countries, such as Canada, to follow suit.



Encouraging initiative

Re: Look to causes, not symptoms of poor health (Nov. 20). The initiative to take a new perspective on health care is encouraging. It's clear our present model is symptom-based.

The doctor asks, "Where does it hurt?" The doctor should be asking, "What's eating you?" I would like to refer readers to the work of Dr. John E. Sarno and his theory of chronic pain, called tension myoneural syndrome (TMS).

An article states that health efforts should relate to "physical, mental and social well-being." TMS theory addresses one of these three areas with new knowledge and treatment.



Humanizing the staff

Thanks for the Nov. 21 insert featuring biographies of your columnists and photographers. As an avid Free Press reader, I have often wondered about the background of the people whose work we read and view. But, at the same time, I do not take the time to go on the web to see if I can read more about who they are.

Your insert section was helpful and puts a human face on your staff members. A sports hunk like Gary Lawless just becomes more of a mensch when we visualize him in his off-work time having a tea party with his little girl.

Carol Sanders is also someone we all admire for her fearless and intuitive reporting, especially on cultural communities here in our province. She has a way of crawling into our minds and challenging our preconceptions.

One suggestion: As a former Winnipegger transplanted into a rural community, I would like a few more rural stories. Thanks for what you do to keep us informed and to challenge our thinking.



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 22, 2013 A15

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