Bill 109 – Proposing Changes to Legislation to further Protect Injured Workers
Published on: 08/07/2015
On May 28th, the government tabled Bill 109, the Employment and Labour Statute Law Amendment Act, which proposes to make significant changes to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) among others. The Bill makes a number of recommendations that seek to further protect the rights of employees in the province. Changes include:
• creating an offense under the WSIA for claims suppression;
• increasing the maximum corporate penalties from $100,000 to $500,000 for a conviction under the WSIA, including making a false or misleading statement to the WSIB or suppressing any employee claims;
• protect employees from retribution from their employers for reporting a workplace injury or illness;
• replacing the legislated minimum amount for survivor benefits with a calculation based on the deceased worker's average earnings at the time of diagnosis; and,
• create the statutory authority for the appointment of the WSIB Fairness Commissioner.
This Bill, therefore, creates a prohibited activity, claims suppression, and two penalties, an offence and an administrative monetary penalty (AMP), that may be prescribed by regulation.
Each of the proposals represent a significant change to the existing system, but the language in the Bill around the establishment of a claims suppression provision should be of particular interest to employers. The language as presently proposed reads as follows (bolding added for emphasis):
22.1 (1) No employer shall take any action, including but not limited to the prohibited actions set out in subsection (2), in respect of a worker with the intent of,
(a) discouraging or preventing the worker from filing a claim for benefits under section 22; or
(b) influencing or inducing the worker to withdraw or abandon a claim for benefits made under section 22...
(3) An employer who contravenes subsection (1) shall pay the prescribed amount to the Board. This payment is in addition to any penalty imposed by a court for an offence under section 155.1.
The language in this section 22.1 (noted above) has been made broad enough to make any employer overture to settle a claim with a worker a potential offence and subject to an up-to $500,000 fine under the proposed provisions of this Bill. An offer to settle a claim by offering a cash settlement should the worker withdraw an appeal appears to fall within the wording of taking "any action... with the intent of ... influencing a worker to withdraw or abandon a claim for benefits..."
Bill 109 in its entirety can be found by clicking on this link. At this point, the Bill has only gone through first reading and will still need to make it through several levels of approval before anything is finalized or passed. We will issue further information on this as it progresses.
If you have any questions or concerns with this proposal, please contact Patrick McManus (905-629-7766 ext. 222 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
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