Unions and Workers’ Compensation

Campaigns for compensation reform

Many unions are calling for significant compensation reform. They include: 

  • In 2021, the B.C. Federation of Labour launched a “Workers Deserve Better” campaign. The Workers Deserve Better report lays out concrete legislative and policy changes needed to create a fair, accountable, and worker-centred compensation system in B.C. The report, New Directions: Report of the WCB Review 2019, authored by Kevin Love, a lawyer with the Community Legal Assistance Society (CLAS), is informed by the seminal Patterson report delivered to government in October, 2019.

The B.C. Fed report and video are available at Workers Deserve Better.

  • United Steelworkers “Workers Compensation System a “National Disgrace”, USW@Work, June 19, 2020. This article summaries the 2019 Globe & Mail report on how the unfair RTW compensation practices have fueled an addiction crisis among injured workers in B.C.. 
  • As part of its Action Plan for 2022-2025, Unifor proposes to undertake a national campaign to improve worker compensation systems based on a set of core principles (including sustainable funding, universal coverage, fair treatment and dignity) and tailored to individual provinces.
  • Unifor has posted a short paper on the problems with the current varied disability coverage schemes across Canada and it proposes the creation of a royal commission and ultimately, a universal disability plan that does not require determination of causation. The paper includes references to the ideas of Prof. Terence Ison formerly of Osgoode Hall Law School and past Chair of the B.C. Workers’ Compensation Board. Universal Disability Insurance

Union resources for compensation advocacy

Many unions have also developed specialized resources for compensation advocates and conducted research about injuries and hazards found in their bargaining unit work. This section provides some key highlights from some union websites, although it should be noted that many more resources are available on each union website. 

United Steelworkers Canada

Compensation resources on the United Steelworkers Canada website are generally found In the “Member Support” section, under “Featured Documents and Publications”, although some are also in the union’s magazine called USW@work (back issues are available). 

Key resources include: 

  • The Federal Disability Reference Guide (2013) This document is helpful in summarizing legal definitions of disability and the duty to accommodate. See page 23-27 “Key Publications”, “Key Court Decisions”, and “Research, Knowledge, Policy and Program Development Resources”
  • The USW’s Raising the Bar Action Guide (part of the USW campaign Raising the bar on women’s health and safety). The action guide describes 16 health issues or hazards that women workers can experience, and covers both prevention and injuries that women can experience in the workplace. Examples include: workplace design and ergonomics, sexual violence and cancers (breast, ovarian, cervical & uterine). The Guide links workplace conditions and women’s injuries. One example (page 13) includes when women don’t have access to enough safe, clean and accessible toilets, showers and changerooms, they can suffer bladder and urinary tract infections from not urinating when needed, yeast infections and other consequences of not being able to change menstrual pads and tampons as needed. Material includes an inspection checklist, a presentation on Raising the Bar.
  • Report about USW’s fight to prevent workplace deaths and injuries: Hell’s History from the 1992 Westray Mine disaster through 2016 (page 38 onwards)

Unifor Canada

Some compensation resources on the Unifor Canada website are found In the “Campaign” section, under the “Health & Safety Resources”, while others, such as Fact Sheets, are found under “Resources/Our Resources”. 

Key resources include: 

  • In the “Campaign/Health & Safety Resources” section, there is a COVID-19 Resource Centre with many resources related to COVID-19. Of special interest is the COVID-19 Mental Health Resource Guide (August 2021). This is a resource guide for workers outlining some of the impacts of COVID-19 on mental wellness and safety for higher risk, more vulnerable groups including but not limited to women, people who are racialized, disabled, and/or ill with mental health or immune compromising conditions and providing links to supports.