The only province in Canada to pay bonuses to staff to cut caseloads and reduce services to injured workers.
Edmonton (6 August 2010) - The Alberta Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) puts higher priority on keeping employer premiums low than serving injured workers, says the Alberta Federation of Labour (AFL).
New AFL research shows that Alberta's WCB is the only board in Canada following the "immoral" practice of paying bonuses to staff as an incentive to cut their caseloads.
The Alberta WCB also collects the lowest premiums in Canada from employers in dangerous industries, the AFL says.
For example, employers in Alberta's oil and natural gas sector pay only 55 cents per $100 payroll in WCB premiums. Companies in the rest of Canada pay four times as much - $2 per $100 payroll.
Meanwhile, industrial construction companies in Alberta pay only $2.04 per $100 payroll while elsewhere in Canada it is common for companies to pay more than double that - $4.30 per $100 payroll.
"The Alberta WCB's low premium rates and its immoral bonus system for case managers are two sides of the same coin," says AFL president Gil McGowan.
"After years of putting a priority on premium reduction, the Alberta WCB simply doesn't have the funds to fulfill its mandate of supporting and rehabilitating injured workers. Sadly, instead of increasing premium rates, the board has focused on finding new ways to deny claims and otherwise reduce pay-outs. This perverse and despicable bonus system is the pinnacle of this process."
McGowan's comments came in response to recent revelations that the Alberta WCB has been paying bonuses - averaging $5,600 a year - to staff members who help the board meet its "corporate goal" of premium reduction.
An ALF survey of other provinces found no other Canadian WCBs give bonuses to their case managers for closing files or meeting "quotas."
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