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Collateral Damage:

When workers compensation systems fail to adequately compensate an injured worker, the care of that injured worker is downloaded onto society at large through tax-based social programs. WCBs are paid for by corporations, not by taxes, so that it is only when WCB denies a claim that the costs are downloaded onto taxpayers. This is what has been referred to as the "Collateral Damage" that WCBs inflict upon society by failing to live up to their mandate.

Here are some of the costs to society that WCBs cause:

Our health care system covers costs for surgery and treatments for injured workers when their cases are closed or denied by Worker's Compensation boards. Even if an injured worker appeals and has their claim re-opened the health care system in their province does not go back and retroactively charge these medical costs back to the worker's compensation board. As appeals often take years, it benefits worker's compensations boards to postpone re-opening a claim or to delay and deny claims.
Studies show differing estimates of the downloading of costs by WCBs onto the health care system:
- "(54%) of work-related injuries were inappropriately billed to the public health care system and not to workers' compensation boards." - The consequences of underreporting workers' compensation claims

- 12% of workplace injury costs downloaded onto the health care system - "Substantial costs remain uncompensated by the provincial compensation agency and are thus transferred to the provincial health care system annually."

Our Canada Pension Plan is forced to pay disabilty benefits to those who should be covered by the workers compenstion program and, in some provinces, the CPP even subsidizes WCB payments when injured workers are forced to apply for CPP Disability benefits and these payments are then deducted from their workers compensation payments.
Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology - Feb 2005:

Darrell Powell (witness) - "In 2000, the Campbell government eviscerated the WCB and brought about some pretty drastic changes to the act, and one of them was the reclaiming of CPP benefits from injured workers' disability benefits. To put it in its worst context, if you get $600 from CPP disability until you are age 65, and you are getting $300 from the compensation board, they take half of your CPP, so in a sense, they are not paying for your compensation at all. It is CPP.

Senator Kirby (Chair) - "The second issue that Darrell raised is one that has troubled me for a long time with respect to social programs in general, which is the tendency of a provincial government to claw back money that the federal government contributes."

Other income assistance programs, such as welfare bear the burden of injured workers who are not compensated through the workers compensation system.

In addition our other social programs are burdened by the failures of the workers compensation system:

- higher amounts in Child Tax Benefits

- higher amounts in GST Rebate cheques

- families pay less tax as a working spouse claims the injured spouse as a dependent

- families pay less tax as injured workers who cover their own medical expenses may then deduct them from any income that they or their spouse may have

- higher payments to families for childcare subsidization/daycare assistance

- more individuals taking advanatge of programs through Canada Mortgage and Housing for things like wheelchair ramps, and other housing assistance.

- more money can be given to the children of injured workers in RESP credits because of the lower tax bracket. (Unfortunately many families don't have the money to put into this program.)

There are many other government programs that share this burden, as well as food banks and other public sector programs that are forced to support injured workers when the compensation system fails.

Then consider the long term cost to the economy of a family who is forced into poverty. It is not just that the family now buys fewer goods and services. Their children also suffer with decreased opportunities for education. A poor family usually utilizes the health care system more often because of poor nutrition, etc.

The cycle of poverty is multi-generational and the costs to society are ongoing and cumulative.

Please refer to our section on WCB as a negative social determinant of health

Also look at the costs to employers because of the failure of the WCB system in Canada.


"Of all the agencies that I get complaints on from my constituents,
the most complex files all belong to WCB. This tops the list.
Changes to this act must be made for the workers to get
the protection and the justice they so deserve."

K. Stewart - BC Hansard

"The entire WCB system and organization
needs to be drastically overhauled."

Ray Martin - NDP MP

The CIWS is compiling a list of Hansard documents to monitor politicians' responses ( or lack thereof ) to workers compensation issues. List will be posted when up to date.
(also see "Commission and Reports")

Failing the Homeless:
A Report on the Barriers in the Ontario Disability Support Program for Homeless People with Disabilities by Streethealth at:

. . . All project participants eventually became homeless because they could not secure an adequate income through the following public programs:

7.2 Failure of Workers Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
. . . Workplace injuries played a role in becoming disabled for 57% of participants who worked and 46% had received worker’s compensation benefits at some time. However, none of the study participants who had WSIB benefits were able to maintain ongoing benefits.

. . . WSIB did not help to ensure that participants had another adequate source of income before cutting off their WSIB benefits.

See Full Report:

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