Workers’ Compensation and COVID-19
Workers’ compensation is a concept that originated in Great Britain in the late 1800s. The Workers’ Compensation Act in Canada, passed in 1886, was introduced in the Province of Ontario. This concept, although well known, took several years to be put into effect. In 1910, Justice William Meredith was appointed to chair a Royal Commission to study the issue of workers’ compensation. In 1913, he tabled the Meredith Report, which laid the foundation for the workers’ compensation system in Canada.
After Ontario, it was the turn of all the provinces to adopt. Over the years, the principle of compensation, with some variations in each province. Today, there are twelve provincial Workers’ Compensation Boards (WCBs). It should be noted that there is no federal program for compensation. There is one specific law that applies to public sector workers: the Government Employees Compensation Act (GECA).
At the federal level, all public servants, with the exception of members of the Regular Force of the Canadian Forces, are entitled to protection through provincial workers’ compensation boards, including the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (CNESST) in Quebec.
If you are in the private sector and this legislation does not apply to you, be aware of variations in provincial legislation that may cover the following:
- income replacement;
- reimbursement of medical expenses, including technical aids;
- treatments and prescription drugs;
- rehabilitation services and attendant care, or
- physical disability benefits.
It is important to fill out the form that applies to your province as soon as you are injured at work. Some people will use sick days to avoid the paperwork and other steps involved. However, many situations which may seem trivial at the time, can affect you in the long run. If problems arise years later, you need to have the necessary paperwork done in order to protect yourself.
In the case of COVID-19, this virus came into our lives only two years ago. The short and long term effects vary from person to person. If you contract COVID-19 at work, it is very important to visit your provincial workers’ compensation website to access the form and apprise yourself of procedures to follow. Many front-line workers put their lives on the line to ensure the safety of Canadians across the country. You must protect yourself.
This pandemic introduced new procedures. Many of our members are front-line workers who have been forced to continue to travel to their workplaces for security reasons pertaining to Canada. The processes may seem complicated, but UCTE is here to help you navigate through all of them.