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Government, Labour

Report recommends higher payments, student coverage for Saskatchewan workers’ comp

DCN-JOC News Services
Report recommends higher payments, student coverage for Saskatchewan workers’ comp

REGINA — A report on Saskatchewan’s Workers’ Compensation Act recommends nearly three-dozen changes including coverage for students on work-based learning programs and increased payments for permanent impairments.

The report, put together by the Workers Compensation Act Committee of Review, includes 34 recommendations of which 12 would require amendments to the Workers Compensation Act, 2013.

The first recommendation is coverage for students in work-based programs. As it stands, there are three government agencies that enter memorandums of understanding (MOU) with the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) to cover students on an as-needed basis.

“The current arrangement of using MOUs is a risk and has not been tested in a court of law should a case be brought forward due to a student injury or fatality,” reads the report.

The second recommendation is to increase the payout for permanent functional impairment caused by a work-related injury.

Currently, the maximum payment for a permanent injury is $45,200. The report notes the maximum payment for catastrophic injury under Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) is more than $200,000.

“This difference in the lump sum payment awards between WCB and SGI is commonly noted by injured workers,” reads the report.

The report makes several recommendations regarding a worker fatality, including covering expenses for transportation of a worker’s body even if they live outside of the country and providing one-time payments to the estate of a deceased worker if they have no dependents.

The fifth recommendation would ensure dependents receive equitable compensation for a worker who passed away from a non-work-related injury regardless of how long they had received benefits for.

Other recommendations would increase privacy protection for workers, improve the medical review panel by simplifying requirements, provide quicker supports for psychological injury, create a requirement for all decisions to include detailed reasoning and the creation of a standalone policy for chronic pain, among many others.

Saskatchewan is asking for input on the recommendations until Jan. 31. Comments can be emailed to legislation.labour@gov.sk.ca.

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