Proposed changes to workers’ compensation and occupational health and safety legislation in Alberta

November 6, 2020 | Jill W. Wilkie, Teri Treiber

On November 5, 2020, the Government of Alberta introduced Bill 47, Ensuring Safety and Cutting Red Tape Act, 2020 (the “Bill”).

The stated purpose of the Bill is to: (i) make workplace safety laws easier to understand without making substantive changes to workers’ rights and protections; and (ii) create a more sustainable workers’ compensation system.

The proposed amendments to workers’ compensation legislation include:

  • reinstatement of the cap on maximum insurable earnings for injured and ill workers;
  • limiting presumptive coverage for psychological injuries to firefighters, police officers, peace officers, paramedics, corrections officers, and emergency dispatchers (other workers will still have access to coverage for work-related psychological injuries through the normal claim process);
  • restoring a voluntary system for reinstating an injured worker (right now this is mandatory for workers with at least 12 months’ service); and
  • removing the requirement for employers to continue making contributions to health benefit plans for injured workers who are off of work.

The proposed amendments to occupational health and safety legislation include:

  • adding flexibility to requirements for work site health and safety committees and representatives for work sites with multiple employers and a prime contractor;
  • clarifying definitions and reporting requirements for “potentially serious incidents”; and
  • clarifying rules and definitions around “dangerous work” refusals.

If passed, most changes to workers’ compensation legislation would come into force on January 1, 2021, and most changes to occupational health and safety legislation would come into force on September 1, 2021.

This article provides a high-level overview of some of the key changes proposed in the Bill. To review the Bill in its entirely, see Bill 47.

If the Bill passes, employers are encouraged to review their policies and practices to determine whether any changes are necessary. Miller Thomson’s Labour and Employment Team would be pleased to discuss these proposed legislative changes and the impact that they could have upon employers with Alberta employees.

Disclaimer

This publication is provided as an information service and may include items reported from other sources. We do not warrant its accuracy. This information is not meant as legal opinion or advice.

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