Sep 082020
 

https://www.thestar.com/opinion/contributors/2020/09/03/canada-needs-a-national-income-program-for-people-with-disabilities.html

By Michael J. Prince

As the COVID-19 pandemic endures, the federal government continues to announce new programs to support the financial security and well-being of working Canadians. But not everyone is covered by them.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), introduced in April and scheduled to end in late September, will provide $76 billion to nearly 8.6 million applicants.

With this program, imbalances and biases in income security decisions were starkly exposed. Governments clearly expected people with disabilities to live on disability income benefits (such as the Canada Pension Plan Disability and provincial social assistance) of an amount — in most cases — of half or less than the $2,000 a month provided by the CERB.

If that was the minimum amount necessary for some Canadians to live with dignity during the pandemic, why was it not for others who face additional living costs related to impairments and health conditions? If anything, should those people not receive slightly more than their peers?

In the immediate term, Employment Insurance (EI) is being altered to enable easier eligibility and wider coverage than before.

The Trudeau government has also announced three new temporary benefits: the Canada Recovery Benefit for self-employed workers and other workers not eligible for EI; the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit for people unable to work because they need to care for a child, other family member or dependent; and the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit for those who are sick themselves or have to self-isolate because of COVID-19.

However, for working age adults with disabilities these benefits provide little comfort.

The expanded EI and these three new benefits are not available to disabled, working-age Canadians and others who worked less than 120 hours in the past 52 weeks, who are unemployed, not on unpaid leave, or not in the labour force at all. Many are discouraged from the labour force due to the presence of attitudinal and material barriers and the absence of accommodations and inclusive workplaces.

Among working-age people with disabilities, more than 1.5 million, or 41 per cent, are unemployed or out of the labour market entirely. Among those with severe disabilities, this rate increases to over 60 per cent.

That some will get a one-time federal payment of $600 is too little, too late. This meagre one-time federal payment is cold comfort, exposing once again inequities and systemic gaps in income security policies toward people with disabilities.

The need is clear for a new federal income benefit for working-age Canadians with disabilities.

The case for a Canada disability benefit is not tied to the pandemic response and recovery, although this may prove an appropriate political context in which to enact one. Rather, it is linked to Canada’s commitments under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Accessible Canada Act of 2019.

Any new federal benefit for disabled Canadians must be ongoing social protection for individuals and families, not just a temporary program.

To be adequate and to recognize the everyday costs for people living with significant disabilities, a Canada disability benefit amount should at least be $600 per week, indexed to the cost of living and adjusted quarterly like seniors’ benefits. Depending on the eligibility criteria, the annual cost could be $5 billion to $6 billion.

Recipients of this new disability benefit should be allowed to maintain their current health supplements and, like the Canada Recovery Benefit, be able to work and supplement their income through earnings –– with a generous earnings exemption and investments in accessible employment services and inclusive workplaces.

A national disability benefit would be the next great step in providing an adequate basic income for a group too long overlooked by governments and too long forced to struggle for dignity. Of course, many details need to be discussed in consultation with disability organizations and other groups across the country.

This benefit is long overdue. The speech from the throne later this month is a perfect opportunity for the Trudeau government to begin the process of this crucial reform.

Michael J. Prince is Lansdowne Professor of Social Policy at the University of Victoria and was a member of the COVID-19 Disability Advisory Group to Minister Carla Qualtrough.

Aug 012018
 

By Gerald

I was one of the privileged attendees that were invited by Dr. Brigham who I have known for over 10 years. For those who are unfamiliar with Dr. Brigham, he is one of the world’s leading experts on impairment ratings and is the Editing Chair of the AMA Guides 6th Edition. This is the second Webinar I have been invited to by Dr. Brigham specific to problems within the workers compensation systems with other Webinars being planned. The topic was something that affects every one, from the tax payer who is forced to subsidize workers compensation systems when workers claim and benefits are illegally denied based on WCB friendly doctors, in house lawyers and insurance companies who are to blame for the anger and frustration of the injured worker. The topic specific to the Webinar was “Anger and frustration of the Injured Worker”

It was agreed by all attendees that the grand bargain that resulted in the formation of workers compensation is no longer the grand bargain that it was supposed to be. Many in attendance believe that the whole idea of workers compensation should be abolished and some other form of disability insurance be provided through the Federal Government rather than through provinces or states who do a pathetically poor job of ensuring workers get the benefits that they should be entitled to. All in all it was an interesting topic.

Obviously, everyone knows that the system does not work and most workers with permanent disabilities wind up on CPP disability benefits or Social Assistance resulting in taxpayers paying for work-related injuries.

Oct 262017
 

By Gerry

Click on the following link; https://www.thespec.com/opinion-story/7682409-dreschel-fighting-depression-and-stigma-at-city-hall/

Much of the problems associated with causation could be solved by bringing in legislation that would make it mandatory for all employers to carry private insurance along with workers compensation insurance to protect workers from having any loss of earnings due to a physical or mental injury. As noted in this article, Manulife were providing private insurance to the city workers. Carrying this further, all public servants have full protection for work and non work related injuries, paid for by workers and their families who themselves have no protection other than workers compensation insurance. The Alberta Workers Compensation Board have dual insurance paid for by employers and workers (Sun Life, I believe) so why is it that workers are also not fully protected. If all workers had full protection as have all first responders for example, they would not have to fight for benefits from WCB where causation is the sole and only prerequisite in having a claim accepted. Rather than workers having to fight over the cause of an accident as cause in the medical profession is in most cases unknown due to the fact that medicine is not an exact science, it would be the private insurance company who have deep pockets fighting WCB as to who was going to pay for benefits rather than the poor schmuck who does not have the financial ability or the knowledge to fight WCB.

The fact of the matter is that the workers compensation does not work and has not worked for decades as witnessed by various Royal Commissions that have always found that the system is and always has been against workers. Bringing in legislation to provide dual protection for workers would solve a lot of problems and would be cost effective as many large employers provide dual benefits already such as large companies like Telus, Rogers, Shaw, ATCO, Fortis Alberta to name a few. As a retired AGT and Telus employee, even when Telus began paying for workers compensation most of the employees filed claims through the private insurance company to avoid the hassle of a workers compensation claim.

Aug 272012
 

Click on the following link;

http://www.canlii.org/en/ab/abwcac/doc/2005/2005canlii76584/2005canlii76584.html

Scroll down to Para.53 specific to the claim for depression and continuing though to Para 61. The Appeals Commision decision was that the stress associated with her contact with the WCB regarding her claim is reasonable and expected when dealing with disability and an insurer. This decision basically destroys any credibility WCB has when attempting to portray themselves as having compassion, making decisions that are fair and unbiased and treating workers with respect and dignity. WCB spends tens of thousands of dollars on advertisements presenting an image of caring for workers and this is how the Appeals Commision views the WCB.

Click on the following link specific to WCB’s Statement of rights http://www.wcb.ab.ca/public/policy/manual/statements_rights.asp which in reality is nothing but propaganda and lies and even more so when they cannot convince even the morons in the AC that they are different than private insurance companies.

The majority of people who deal with private insurance companies specific to disability insurance are treated much better than workers who unfortunately find themselves under the complete control of WCB. Private disability insurance is guaranteed and a person does not have to prove causation. A person receives disability benefits within a few days or a week at most unlike WCB disability insurance that in numerous cases is never paid despite overwhelming evidence of a work related cause. It is not unusual to have WCB claims that go back 40 years or more. Workers who come under the umbrella of WCB and have their claims denied either commit suicide or commit acts of violence against WCB whereas I have never heard of a person attempting to kill a private insurer or committing suicide because their claim or benefits have been denied by a private insurer.

Major depressive disorders that are assessed using the DSM manual are a common occurrence for workers who submit claims to WCB and rather than assisting workers to become employable, WCB are responsible for the mental and emotional medical conditions suffered by workers because of the way they are treated by Case Managers, DRDRB and the AC and supported by the Alberta Government who have forced workers into a system that does not work and never has worked, all due to a culture of denial that the Alberta Government has simply turned a blind eye to and refuse to do anything to make the system completely transparent and accountable. We elect people to represent us in what is supposed to be a democracy but falls far short of justice for workers because of the contempt the Government has for workers in this province.

 

Gerry Miller