They were told that policy was illegal but it is
only one of a million ways they screw over the workers, Sarah
From Tradetalk magazine By Michel Drouin
the good old days (pre-2002), permanently disabled workers received
workers compensation disability pensions for life. However now, once
you've reached the age of 65, you will receive a $3,000 retirement payout and
Sarah OLeary, a specialist in WCB appeals at the
Health Sciences Association said that the cut of disability pensions at age 65
is serious.They were told that policy was illegal but it is only one of a
million ways they screw over the workers, OLeary said.
to reaching 65, you will receive just 90% of your net wages.
youre severely injured, youll qualify for a CPP disability pension.
But the price for this extra support will mean that you only receive 50% of
your B.C. compensation benefits.
Disability pensions used to be indexed
to the cost of living and reviewed every six months. Now it is adjusted once a
year, and not to the Consumer Price Index but to 1% below the CPI. Every year,
your compensation will slip a further percent below the cost of living. In 10
years, you have the potential to lose 10% or more of your pension with the
changes that were made.
Whats more, regardless of how high
inflation is, your pension is capped. No matter how high inflation goes, you
will never get more than 4% added to your pension.
said,Every one of these changes results in a lot of money saved for
employers. Summing up, she said, So your pension is less, it is for
a shorter time, it is de-indexed and it is going to have CPP clawed back.
Those receiving pensions before June 30, 2002 were not supposed to be
affected by these changes.
It should come as no surprise that problems
associated with injury or disease get worse as permanently disabled people grow
older.These people have always been allowed to apply for an increase in their
pensions to reflect their increased disability. However, the Liberal
government-appointed WCB board of directors changed the rules. Anyone who
received a reassessment after June 30, 2002 is covered by the new system.
Benefits are now lower.
It gets worse. Criteria for receiving
compensation are so limited that the majority or people never qualify. More
likely than not, your claim will be thrown out altogether. In 2006, only 27
injured workers qualified for loss of earning pensions. In 2002, before the
changes, 927 claims were accepted. Serious injuries have not dropped that
Inching forward to a return to justice A
recent B.C. Supreme Court decision forced WCB to reverse one of the
The case concerned a Mr. Cowburn, who is dying
of asbestosis which he contracted while working in a pulp mill years ago. He
had previously been awarded a disability pension calculated at 28% (meaning the
illness had resulted in damage to 28% of his body) or $800 a month. However, in
recent years his disability worsened.
Mr. Cowburn was re-assessed, and
the compensation board found he is now 59% disabled.The problem for him is that
now he is 65. Under the new rules, if he had just been diagnosed, he would have
received no pension for his debilitating condition. Even so, the reassessment
portion, coming after 2002, meant he was not going to get one penny more than
his original $800 a month. Mr. Cowburn challenged this.
In May, the
court sided with Mr. Cowburn saying that denying his increased pension was
unfair.The court said that the board could not refuse to cover pensions as they
were applied under the old system just because they wanted to save money. It
said the boards policy was patently unreasonable and that the
policy could not stand. It was precedent setting.
As a result,WCB has
had to reassess all injured workers who were cut off when they reached 65.
Unfortunately, all the other cuts remain.
But that was only one
small part of a whole brutal assault on workers compensation,
OLeary added.The Liberals have raided and dismantled the
compensation system. No person of conscience could do this to the permanently