Monday, May 16, 2011

Workers' compensation or employer liability insurance?

CBC is reporting an interesting case. Peter Boyko is a former government employment counselor who, after 23 years on the job, was assaulted by a client in 2008.

Boyko’s physical injuries have healed but he remains unable to work. He tried to return to work twice but experienced a severe emotional reaction. He has now been cut off workers’ compensation and terminated from his employment. His EI is about to run out and he will soon be on welfare.

Many workers report similar experiences of their wage-loss compensation being cut off even though they remain unable to work and/or their employer failing to accommodate their disabilities. In both instances, the employer is reducing its costs associated with the work-related injury by transferring those costs to the taxpayer (via medicare, EI and welfare) and the worker (who must somehow muddle through).

Growing awareness of the prevalence of such cases is causing some workers to question the fundamental compromise upon which workers’ compensation is based: workers gave up their right to sue employers in exchange for predictable, immediate and stable wage-loss compensation. If workers’ compensation does not provide the promised compensation, then it is simply a form of employer liability insurance—barring workers from suing their employer.

Cases where a physical injury gives rise of a mental injury are often complex and the CBC story does not include a lot of detail about Boyko’s claim. Yet the basic outline of this case appears fundamentally unjust. The injured worker (who is the victim here) is further damaged by the operation of the workers’ compensation system.

-- Bob Barnetson


  1. My husband is experiencing a similar situation. What is the answer? Is there one? We thought he had rights as an employee on contract and now we seem to have nothing.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.