Workers' Compensation A worker injured by work, or sick with a disease caused by work, might qualify for workers' compensation benefits. The federal government's Government Employees' Compensation Act explains which workers qualify, and the provincial arrangements through which a worker gets compensation. Federal workers' compensation is administered by Human Resources Development Canada (HRDC). HRDC decides, according to the Act, whether or not a worker qualifies.
Compensation for loss of earnings, medical costs, and rehabilitation are provided by the workers' compensation board in the province where a worker lives. Workers' compensation for federal workers in the three territories is provided by Alberta's Workers' Compensation Board. Workers' compensation for workers posted abroad is provided by Ontario's workers' compensation board. Provincial workers' compensation boards decide whether or not a worker receives compensation, and decide what the worker gets compensation for. The federal government pays back provincial workers' compensation boards for compensation payments and services provided to federal workers.
What compensation can a worker with a work injury or illness receive? Depending on the injury or illness, a worker can receive
- compensation payments for loss of earnings, or a percentage of the worker's wages that she or he can't earn because of the injury or illness (the percentage of a worker's wages she or he gets as loss of earnings compensation is set by the provincial compensation board)
- "injury on duty" leave of absence with pay, which might be available to a unionized federal worker through her or his collective agreement
- compensation payments for medical costs
- payment for a permanent disability
Compensation payments are provided by the workers' compensation board in the province where a worker lives. Workers' compensation payments and services differ between provinces. Provincial details of workers' compensation benefits can be found on this web site by clicking on the tab of the province where a worker lives. Federal workers living in the three territories should look at Alberta's workers' compensation benefits, which are provided to federal workers in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Federal workers posted abroad should look at the compensation details for Ontario, which provides compensation benefits to these workers.
Are all workers covered by workers' compensation? All federal government workers and most workers at Crown agencies are covered. Those workers who are not covered are
- the regular forces of the Armed Forces
- workers working for a fee, or on a contract basis
When a worker is injured, what should she or he do? An injured worker should get first aid and immediately report the injury to the supervisor. Even minor injuries should be reported to the supervisor. Next, the worker sees a doctor, letting the doctor know that the injury is a work injury. At workplaces without first aid, or if an injury requires it, the injured worker sees a doctor immediately. While the employer might recommend a particular doctor, the worker can go to the doctor of her or his choice. The employer pays for the travel cost to the doctor's office, hospital emergency or the worker's house on the day of the injury.
When the injured worker meets with the doctor, the worker should tell the doctor how the injury is work related. By giving a detailed account of the incident, the worker can give the doctor all the facts needed to complete the medical report for the provincial workers' compensation board. Information on equipment and hazardous materials might be important for the medical report as well.
To fully describe the injury, the worker can tell the doctor not only about the main injury, but about minor ones, too. For instance, a twisting of the back or bruises to other parts of the body when there's a broken arm after a fall. A work injury sometimes can lead to a second injury.
After an accident, an injury may not be obvious at first. Some injuries develop over time. Some occupational illnesses, like bronchitis or repetitive strain injury, also develop over time. A worker's notes on her of his minor work injuries, illnesses and accidents can be used to trace later how work may have caused or played a significant part in a more serious injury or illness.
Unions are interested in workers' stories of work accidents, work injuries and illnesses. By collecting information from workers, a union can judge whether to recommend to the employer worker training, the use of safety equipment, or equipment repair, for instance, towards improving health and safety at the workplace.
How can a worker get compensation? First, the employer fills in a report. In the employer's report, the injured or ill worker describes the work accident. The worker should answer the questions on the report in great detail. In particular, the events leading to the accident or injury can be reported like a story, with a beginning, middle and end, including background details and the names of any witnesses. The worker keeps a copy of the completed report for her or his own records. For assistance or information on workers' compensation, a unionized worker can go to her or his union.
In deciding whether or not to compensate a worker, and the amount of compensation the worker receives, the provincial workers' compensation board looks at the doctor's medical report on the worker's injury or illness and at the employer's report on the worker's injury or illness. The provincial compensation board might ask the worker to fill in a worker's report on the accident, injury or illness. Then the worker's report is also considered by the workers' compensation board as it makes its decisions.
What should the worker do while off from work because of a work injury or illness? It is important for the worker:
- To speak with WCB before changing doctors, since changing doctors may not be permitted
- To keep in contact with the doctor or other health care provider, attend all medical appointments and follow all medical instruction
- To talk with the doctor or other health care provider about when it is safe to return to work
- To take detailed notes on conversations with doctors and other health service providers
- To keep records of the names of doctors and other health service providers, health service appointments and treatments, health service providers' notes, and health expenses
- To keep all receipts for expenses related to the work injury or illness for a possible refund from WCB
- To take detailed notes on conversations with the provincial workers' compensation board and keep copies of letters and information that the injured or ill worker sends to WCB
- To take notes on conversations with the employer, keep records of time taken off from work, and job searches
- To tell the provincial workers' compensation board about any plans to leave the province or territory, even for a short stay, since compensation benefits might stop while an injured or ill worker is away
What can a worker do if she or he disagrees with the provincial compensation board's decision? A worker can appeal a compensation board's decision. This means a worker can ask the provincial board to change its decision, or parts of its decision. The decision concerns whether or not a worker receives benefits, the type of benefits the worker receives, and the amount and length of time the worker receives benefits.
More information on appealing a compensation board's decision can be found by clicking on the tab of the province which provides the federal worker with benefits. Federal workers living in one of the three territories should look at Alberta's workers' compensation, which is provided to federal workers living in the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Federal workers living in each of the provinces are provided with compensation payments and services by the compensation board in the province where the worker lives. Federal workers posted abroad should look at compensation details for Ontario, which provides compensation to these workers.
A worker who is union member can also contact her or his union for assistance and advice on appealing a provincial compensation board's decision.
FEDERAL WORKERS' COMPENSATION SERVICE Labour Program
Human Resources Development Canada
Ottawa, ON, K1A 0J2