Labour in crisis
Albertans think our well-being rests on the economic thrust of the oil and construction industries. But look again – the most important resource that Alberta can claim is its strong and expert labour force.
With the economy on the upswing, Canadians and foreign workers who are streaming in to do the work should know that our labour force is in crisis.
When our valuable workers are injured on the job, their lives are thrown into turmoil as a result of the Workers’ Compensation Board’s standard operating procedures. Designated doctors contradict expert specialist diagnoses and minimize treatment and compensation, leaving injured workers with no support. Appeals lead to harassment, threats and despair.
Injured workers from Alberta and neighbouring provinces came to Edmonton last week to tell their heart-wrenching stories on the front lawn of Augustana Lutheran Church, across from the WCB offices.
As a member of the public, my first reaction was disbelief. I was shocked to hear that Alberta has lax worker safety standards and lenient enforcement. Employers pay the smallest percentage to the WCB to cover worker injuries and more than a billion un-spent dollars was rebated to those same employers this year, we heard.
Many who stayed away from the gatherings are too afraid of retribution for publicly speaking their stories of hardship at the hands of the WCB.
It is the responsibility of all Albertans to protect this vital resource: our workers. Every family is affected by the possibility of a work-related injury and the disastrous results of inadequate compensation. As an election is near, we must ask every candidate about this crisis.
Marilyn Gaa, Edmonton