'We are troubled about anything that potentially dilutes the clear language of the legislation in support of compensation for workers in Nova Scotia.' - Joan Jessome.
Halifax (17 July 2009) - The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union (NSGEU/NUPGE) is expressing concern about a draft Nova Scotia government policy paper affecting workers' compensation entitlements.
Asked by the government for feedback on the paper, union president Joan Jessome responded in a letter this week to the Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) of Nova Scotia.
The letter is also signed by Danny Cavanagh, president of the Nova Scotia Division of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE).
"Together, we represent over 40,000 public and private sector workers in Nova Scotia who are very concerned about having an effective occupational health and safety system in place and a fair and responsive Workers Compensation Board," Jessome and Cavanagh say in the letter.
"We have participated in earlier WCB policy consultation processes and we appreciate this opportunity to provide comments."
The letter notes that workers agreed over 100 years ago to give up the right to sue employers in the event of an injury or illness at work. This was done in exchange for a no-fault compensation system that was non-adversarial and operated quickly and fairly.
Compensation must be timely
"Workers, when injured at work, should be compensated in a timely manner, for lost wages or potential wages," the two presidents argue.
"Too many workers, including our members, suffer injury and illness and even death at work. We and others in the province have worked tirelessly to make our workplaces more healthy and safe, pushing for better rules and regulations, more enforcement and prosecution, as a means of preventing workers from paying the ultimate price for a job."
The letter says that while the province's draft paper focuses on "non-disease related" accidents and injuries, the union believes that the decision-making process, the principles, and the provisions of the Workers Compensation Act (WCA) and regulations apply equally to all occupational diseases.
"We do not want our comments to be in any way misinterpreted as supporting a distinction in how these workplace issues affect workers in Nova Scotia," the letter adds.
"We are very concerned about the potential adverse impact that this draft general entitlement policy may have for the current adjudication process of interpreting the act and for future possible changes in that process such as moves to auto-adjudication, as is the case in British Columbia and Ontario," the leaders note.
"We are troubled about anything that potentially dilutes the clear language of the legislation in support of compensation for workers in Nova Scotia."
The full text of the letter to the board is available online at the link below.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
Text of NSGEU and CUPE letter to the Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia