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Questionable is whether Bill 30 will address this. At present it is the Government who enacted the WCA (Section 63 of the WCA) that allowed WCB to provide an imaginary job with imaginary earnings. The blame cannot be placed on the WCB as they are simply doing what the Government has allowed them to do. Any one who is familiar with the WCA will find that workers are blaming the wrong people as WCB simply follows the WCA based on their interpretation of the “Act” which in many cases is the incorrect interpretation of the “Act” . Even when WCB or the Appeals Commission know that the interpretation of the “Act” is incorrect, they will continue to use their interpretation until the Court on a question of law, makes a correction. For example: WCB knows that the burden of proof is on the “Board” yet force workers to prove their claim. WCB knows that chronic pain is not provided a PCI rating but do not provide a PCI rating for chronic pain in itself. WCB knows that an impairment rating does not equate to a disability rating, yet they continue to use impairment ratings as a direct method of rating an earning loss. unless a worker has the ability and knowledge to represent themselves in court or has the financial ability to hire an experienced lawyer to represent them, WCB and the Appeals Commission will continue to contravene the law.
Notably, the process of deeming came under attack during the WCB Review Panel’s meetings with the various groups. While the process of deeming workers to imaginary jobs is grossly illogical, it becomes even more illogical when a person understands how deeming is used to determine an earning loss such as an ELS or an ELP. Having been taught in grade school that apples must be compared to apples and oranges to oranges, WCB does not do this when it involves earning losses.
I shall explain. If a worker was injured and suffered a permanent disability and permanent work restrictions their pre-injury earnings on their DOA would be used as a reference to determine an earning loss by comparing pre-injury to post-injury earnings which is the correct method. However, when comparing pre-injury to post-injury earnings this must be done by comparing earnings in the year of the DOA. For example if a worker’s pre-injury earnings are $40,000.00 in 19991, an earning loss must be calculated using 1991 dollars either by using actual 1991 earnings or 1991 deemed earnings. You do not determine an earning loss by using 1991 dollars and compare post-injury actual or deemed earnings twenty or thirty years later which is how WCB determines an earning loss. No worker would ever be entitled to an earning loss as evident by the fact that over time with higher earnings over the course of 20 or 30 years later and then comparing the higher earnings to considerably less earnings 20 or 30 years ago. This is grossly illogical and mathematically incorrect as you have to compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges.
It would be interesting to do a study as to how many workers receive permanent disability benefits past the age of 65 in compliance with WCA 56(7) which states that for permanent total disability or permanent partial disability a pension must be payable to a worker during the worker’s lifetime. At present WCB is not in compliance with the WCA as the lifetime pension that was paid to workers prior to Jan 1, 1995 is based on an impairment rating which is illegal which I am sure that WCB, the Appeals Commission and the Government are aware of.
Because of deeming it would be fair to suggest that there are but a handful of workers who receive a permanent disability pension (ELP after Jan. 1995) past the age of 65 and if a worker whose benefits have been terminated because of deeming and they were unable to perform any gainful employment, these workers would not be eligible to be paid any disability pension past the age of 65. Because they were unable to work and contribute to CPP, they would not receive any CPP pension either as do other Canadians who have never been injured. A worker who has been deemed by WCB and unable to perform regular gainful work or for that matter, any work after living in poverty prior to age 65 would be forced to live in greater poverty as a senior by collecting only old age security, guaranteed income supplement and a small monthly pension from the Alberta Government all paid for by Alberta and Canadian taxpayers rather than WCB.
A disabled worker whose claim has been terminated due to deeming and accepted on AISH would receive $1588.00 a month, free medical aid which includes prescription medications, dental and eye glasses, free ambulance services etc. all paid for by Alberta tax payers. When a disabled worker reaches age 65, they receive no WCB pension because of deeming, their AISH disability pension is terminated and they would receive the OAS, GIS and Alberta senior benefits that is less than what they received on AISH. Disabled workers whose AISH benefits have been terminated now also have to pay for their own prescription medications which can be costly although in Alberta, seniors only have to pay a maximum of $25.00 for any prescription medications that are on the list of approved prescription medications although paying $25.00 for medication in many cases would result in having to go without eating for a day or more.
For any one to suggest that WCB does not download most of the cost of caring for disabled workers onto tax payers, it would be fair to suggest that these people would have to be living on a different planet. That is how the system operates whether it is in Alberta, Montana or Timbuctu. Rather than a review of WCB, the people of Alberta should be entitled to a Public Inquiry.