Presentations were made by representatives of CUPE New
Brunswick at the recent public meetings of the Independent Review Panel looking
into the operation of the WHSCC.
At the Fredericton public meetings on November 6,
presentations were made by Norma Robinson, President of the N.B. Council of
Hospital Unions, Local 1252, and Rosanne Carter, of CUPE Local 908. At
the Saint John meetings, a presentation was made by CUPE N.B.
Secretary-Treasurer Rick MacMillan.
Many other locals of CUPE made presentations at the public
meetings, supporting the position of the New Brunswick of Federation of Labour
and CUPE New Brunswick.
CUPE New Brunswick's brief pointed out that even though
employment has increased, the number of WCB claims has decreased since changes
made to the compensation and occupational health system in 1993. Even
more alarming is the decrease in the number of successful workers' compensation
claims, down from 31.6% of claims in 1989 to 17.4% in 2005.
"Claims are down not because of safer workplaces, but
because people are not reporting injuries and are being denied benefits," said
Rick MacMillan, Secretary-Treasurer of CUPE New Brunswick. "The change to
the definition of 'accident' makes it more difficult to have an injury covered
by WCB. And those who do report them are being improperly rejected --
more claims are rejected in New Brunswick than anywhere else in Canada," he
Another reason fewer accidents are reported is because of
the penalty resulting from the three-day waiting period. "If you are hurt
at work and are off the job for three weeks, you suffer a 20% loss of
pay. It's bad enough that someone suffers pain and suffering in an
injury, and they should not suffer a financial loss, too", said
"Public sector workplaces are not as safe as many people
might think, and they are suffering from a lack of enforcement of health and
safety laws. Based on the WHSCC's own figures, it's more dangerous to
work in a nursing home than to work in a slaughter house or a heavy metal
mine," he noted.
CUPE New Brunswick brief also calls for reinstatement of
the Occupational Health and Safety Commission. "We need a commission that will
focus only on prevention of accidents and updating the regulations," noted the