Workers’ compensation “dangerously” underfunded: union

FREDERICTON — Members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees New Brunswick (CUPE NB) held a protest for the rights of injured workers to denounce recent cuts to the workers’ compensation fund while the provincial legislature was reopening on October 24.
Earlier this year, WorkSafe NB announced its intention to increase the rates collected from employers to ensure sustainability of the workers’ compensation fund, but business interests lobbied against the measure, and WorkSafe NB’s board of directors buckled. On October 2, 2017, the board announced a meagre 22 cents hike per $100 of payroll. New Brunswick’s rate of $1.70 per $100 is amongst the lowest provincial rates in Canada.
“WorkSafe NB was created for people, not profits,” Daniel Légère, president of CUPE NB, charges in a statement issued on October 25. Légère adds that the province has yet to come back from the cuts made back in 1992.
“The CEO of WorkSafe NB is doing like McKenna: Underfunding the very system created to protect injured workers and their families,” Légère says. “This month, WorkSafe NB’s board of directors even admitted they are far from even meeting basic operating costs to manage the workers’ compensation fund. Simply maintaining the fund would have required an additional 23 cents increase ($1.93 per $100 of payroll).”
As long-term sustainability of the fund is in questioon, CUPE NB is worried that attrition, cuts and even privatization, might be on the horizon. “The public needs to know what is going on,” Légère adds.
According to the statement, CUPE and the Federation of Labour have communicated with the Labour Minister, recommending that funds to the workers’ compensation be restored at pre-1992 levels. This would enable the system to eliminate the three-day wait period for injured workers, increase benefits for injured and deceased workers and expedite the claims process by hiring more front-line staff at WorkSafe NB.

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