October 1, 2013
For immediate release
Workers Compensation Act to be amended
Environment, Labour and Justice
Following a recent review, the Department of Environment, Labour and Justice will bring forward a series of amendments to the Workers Compensation Act, says Minister Janice Sherry.
“In the next session of the Legislative Assembly, I intend to ask for the approval of measures that will make workers compensation more generous to employees while continuing to keep the system financially sustainable for the employers that fund workers compensation in Prince Edward Island,” said Minister Sherry.
Following a series of consultations and reviews carried out by an advisory committee in 2012, the department is proposing legislative changes that would maintain fully funded status for the Workers Compensation Board. The changes would also reduce the wait time for claims from three to two days; increase wage loss benefits to 85 per cent of net insurable earnings from 80 per cent; and increase the indexation of benefits from 75 to 80 per cent of the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
“Participation in the workers compensation system is optional for the farming and fishing industries, said the minister. “We want to hear from these industries whether this approach is working or if changes are desired.”
Government will open a dialogue with the agriculture and fisheries industries regarding workers compensation.
“The amendments will provide a fair and balanced approach to the interests of workers and employers,” said the minister.
The Government of Prince Edward Island intends to introduce legislation during the 2013 Legislature session that would amend the Workers Compensation Act. The proposed amendments are drawn from recommendations of a 2012 review of the Act. With these amendments, government is taking a fair and balanced approach to the interests of Island workers and employers.
Key proposed changes to the Workers Compensation Act:
1. Maintain or Achieve Fully Funded Status
Being in a fully funded position means that the Board is in a position, if it were to close its doors today and collect no more assessments from employers, to pay all benefits injured workers are entitled to until the last of them and their dependants are deceased.
The Prince Edward Island Workers Compensation Board was funded at 103% in 2010, and at 108% in 2012. The WCB has a policy of maintaining full-funded status and that policy would be incorporated into law under the proposed changes.
2. Reduce Wait Period from Three Days to Two Days
The wait period in PEI is 3/5 of one week’s wages, and is likened to a “deductible” in an insurance policy. The proposed wait period would be equivalent to 2/5 of the worker’s weekly wages.
3. Increase Wage Loss Benefit from 80% to 85% of Net Insurable Earnings
PEI’s wage loss benefit is 80% of net insurable earnings for the first 38 weeks on claim and 85% thereafter. Under the proposed change, benefits would be set at 85% of earnings throughout the claim period. The injured worker does not pay tax on this benefit.
4. Increase Indexation of Benefits from 75% to 80% of CPI
Currently, the Workers Compensation Act provides for an adjustment of benefits on July 1 of each year in an amount equal to the lesser of either a change of 4% or 75% of the percentage change in the Consumer Prince Index for Charlottetown and Summerside.