Changes in WCB & OHS Legislation – from Alberta Chamber of Commerce

Lawrence Chamber News

 

Issue: Changes to WCB & OHS Legislation

 

November 27, 2017 – The Alberta Government has introduced Bill 30 An Act to Protect the Health and Well-being of Working Albertans for First Reading. Bill 30 makes significant changes to the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) and Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) standards, which will result in new costs and administrative burdens for employers.

Changes to employer responsibilities will begin to take effect on January 1, 2018, if Bill 30 is passed this legislative session. Further changes introduced by the legislation would take effect on July 1st and September 1st of 2018.

Changes to workplace standards and responsibilities for employers include:

Hard Costs

·     The cap on maximum insurable earnings through the WCB will be removed. Workers earning more than the cap will now be fully compensated for 90% of their earnings.

·     WCB claims will now include a $90 000 fatality benefit

·     Stop work order may be issued on multiple work sites of an employer

·     When evidence is equal, WCB claim decisions are to be resolved in favor of the worker

 

Indirect Costs

·     Employers or prime contractors required to establish a Joint Work Site Health and Safety Committee (JWSHSC) and Representative for a workplace or project with 20 or more workers

·     An employer with 20 or more workers is required to establish a health and safety program in consultation with JWSHSC and implement the program

·     Worker health and safety representative required for workplace or project with 5 to 19 workers

·     When JWSHSC members or representative provide reasonable notice, they are permitted up to 2 days to attend OHS education or training with no loss of pay or benefits

 

If Bill 30 is passed this legislative session, the ACC is concerned with the speed changes will begin to take effect. Business, particularly small business, will have very little time to adjust or even be effectively educated on how to take on and fulfill their new responsibilities.

 

The ACC has recommended that the Alberta Government send Bill 30 to a committee for further review and analysis following First and Second Reading. Taking this step will help identify how employers and employees can best adjust to changes introduced with the new legislation, which are intended to prevent illness and injury in the workplace.

 

WCB premium surpluses collected from employers in 2016 are approximately 350 Million, with similar surpluses expected for 2017. Past practice of the WCB has been to rebate surpluses back to employers because the WCB if fully employer funded. The ACC is pleased that the Alberta Government rejected the WCB Review Panel’s recommendation to not rebate accrued surpluses back to employers, but the final decision for rebating the surpluses back to employers rests with the WCB.

 

The Alberta Government has not provided an economic impact analysis of this legislation on employers and core industries. At first estimate, it is anticipated that the changes introduced by this legislation may result in approximately a 10% increase in the total WCB premiums collected from Alberta employers. Cost structures of employers with high income earners in highly rated industries will be particularly affected with the removal of the cap on insurable WCB earnings.

 

Concerns about Alberta’s competitiveness in industries such as oil and gas should be a key consideration of the government. Alberta was recently ranked 33rd in the world, and second worse in Canada, for investor attractiveness in oil and gas according to the Fraser Institute’s 2017 Global Petroleum Survey.

 

The ACC will continue to update chambers on this issue as information becomes available.

 

Take Action

 

For Chambers:

 

·     Help educate your members about changes that may affect them

·     Communicate resources that will help members adjust to changes as resources become available

 

For Business:

 

·     Communicate to local MLA’s how these changes will affect you, and how the speed of changes may not support the objectives to prevent illness and injury in the workplace

·     Ask Alberta Labour for resources and supports that will help your workplace effectively implement

 

Contact Alberta Labour:

 

Twitter @Work_Alberta

Website work.alberta.ca

Call OHS 1-866-415-8690

Articles and Resources

 

Read

 

Technical Briefing on WCB and OHS changes introduced by Bill 30 (Power Point)

 

ACC policy Modernizing the Workers’ Compensation Board (2017)

 

Fraser Institute’s 2017 Global Petroleum Survey

Stay Tuned

 

ACC President & CEO Ken Kobly has done a number of interviews which will be available online tomorrow and later this week.

 

Available tomorrow

 

Interview with Danielle Smith on the 770 Newstalk Audio Vault: Nov. 28 at 11:30 AM

 

Interview with Alberta Labour Minister Christina Grey on CBC Alberta@Noon: Nov. 28

 

The Voice of Business at Work for You

 

Advocacy Actions on this Issue

 

·     Attended government consultation on WCB and OHS changes

·     Met with the Alberta Labour Minister to directly discuss changes to workplace legislation

·     Developed policies with recommendations for government on changing workplace laws with community chambers in Alberta

·     Communicated ACC policies and concerns with changing workplace laws with the Deputy Minister of Alberta Labour

·     Engaged in social media on this issue

·     Communicated changes, policies and related education on this issue to the chamber network and Alberta business community

 

Thank you to our media partners for their continued support

 

 

 

   

 

 

The Alberta Chambers of Commerce is a federation of 124 community-based chambers of commerce representing more than 24,000 businesses.

 

Visit our website

 

Alberta Chambers of Commerce | 1808, 10025-102A Avenue, Edmonton, Alberta T5J 2Z2 Canada
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