The Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL) today responded to the release of two WCB Review Committee Reports by stating that injured workers have been vindicated by the findings. Both reports were highly critical of WCB, calling it unaccountable. Both reports recommend sweeping changes to WCB policies and procedures. The AFL urged the Minister of Human Resources and Employment, Clint Dunford, to act swiftly on the reports.
"I feel injured workers around the province have been vindicated today," says AFL President Audrey Cormack. "We have said for years that the WCB is unaccountable, unresponsive and uninterested in helping injured workers. The two review committees agree with us."
"However, I am concerned these reports, like so many before them, will simply gather dust on the Minister's desk," adds Cormack. "I intend to pressure Minister Dunford to act swiftly to implement the recommendations found in the reports."
The MLA review committee found that the core problem at WCB is a lack of accountability. "I agree that accountability is the issue most needing correction at the WCB. It can't happen too soon for me."
Cormack also highlights that the MLA Committee suggests that conflict of interest is a serious potential problem at the WCB. Cormack urges further exploration of this matter.
Cormack says that she is in agreement with most of the recommendations found in the MLA Review Committee. In particular, she is pleased to see recommendations addressing:
- Recommendations curtailing the power of medical advisors and give more authority to the treating physician and an independent panel of doctors.
- Establishment of a Tribunal to review past cases where the worker did not receive just compensation.
- Implementation of an Alternative Disputes Resolution mechanism.
The AFL's opinion of the Appeals Systems Review committee is more mixed. "I am very, very pleased they are recommending the WCB pay for external advocates hired by injured workers. This will make the system much more fair."
Cormack is concerned with recommendations urging the Appeals Commission fall under the Department of Justice, and that a more "legalistic" framework be established for appeals. "In our submission to the Committee, we stated that we did not think a more legalistic approach would help injured workers."
"Today the WCB got its long deserved conviction for failing in its mandate. Hopefully tomorrow we can get the needed changes implemented so we can finally have a fair and just WCB in this province," Cormack concludes.
For further information contact:
Audrey M. Cormack, President (cell) 780-499-6530
Jason Foster, Director (cell) 780-910-1137