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.

Jul 292019
 

Dear Mr. Copping;

Congratulations on your election win and selection as labor minister by Mr. Kenny. From your biography I see that you have impressive credentials as the new labor minister. Better yet, some of your studies were from Osgoode Hall where I assume you must have met Dr. Terence Ison who is acknowledged as Canada’s foremost expert on administrative law as it pertains to workers compensation. 

We have a perplexing problem in Alberta that has been around for decades and that is who has the burden of proof both for and against in the workers compensation system. According to Dr. Ison neither the worker or the employer has any burden of proof. Dr. Ison suggests that in the workers compensation system in Canada, the “Board” is the only one who has the burden of proof, both for and against in what he refers to as an Inquiry system. This was noted by Justice Bruce Millar of the Alberta Court of Queens Bench when I was involved in a Judicial Review which resulted in the Appeals Commission and WCB Legal Counsel being advised by Justice Millar that my client under an Inquiry system had no burden of proof whatsoever, yet both WCB and the Appeals Commission persist in placing the burden of proof on workers. It is rare that an employer ever appeals any decision and rarely if ever attends an in person appeals hearing when WCB, DRDRB and the Appeals Commission assume the role of the employer to contradict a worker who is left on their own to argue their claim.

If you click on the following link; https://www.wcb.mb.ca/sites/default/files/2016%20backgrounder.pdf, scroll down to Part V of the Manitoba workers compensation system where it states:

V Principles of Adjudication Inquiry Model 

The WCB operates on an inquiry model, which means that the WCB must either prove or disprove a claim through investigation. It is not the responsibility of the worker to prove the claim, nor is it the responsibility of the employer to help prove or disprove a claim. There is no formal or legal burden of proof on any party but the WCB. The WCB is responsible for ensuring that there is sufficient information on which to base a decision. Workers, employers, and health-care providers are required to report to the WCB. The WCB then undertakes whatever additional inquiries are necessary to determine eligibility and compensation entitlement. 

Click on the following link:
https://digitalcommons.osgoode.yorku.ca/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?referer=https://www.google.com/&httpsredir=1&article=1620&context=ohlj   Scroll down to page 814 third paragraph where Dr. Ison states:

With regard to the burden of proof, workers’ compensation in Canada has always been different from common law proceedings. Our systems were established to work on an enquiry model, not an adversarial model. There is no burden of proof on anyone except the board. Since workers’ compensation was not to be adversarial, a rule was required for situations in which the evidence for and against employment causation is judged to be evenly balanced. In that situation, a common law regime would require that the claim be denied; but a more benevolent view was taken in workers’ compensation. It has commonly been provided that, where the evidence relating to the disputed probabilities is judged to be evenly balanced, the matter should be decided in favour of the claimant.

In Albertathe burden of proof is put on the worker which is typical of an adversarial system which was never the intention of Meredith specifically because workers do not have the resources or financial ability to pay medical costs, legal costs to fight WCB, DRDRB and the Appeals Commission. Workers also do not by statute have the right to investigate, do not have the same powers as a the Court of queens Bench as does WCB, they also do not have any powers of investigation as does WCB under the Public Inquiries Act. 

My question to you is the same question I have asked previous Ministers in charge of the WCB. Who has the burden of proof in the workers compensation system in Alberta or is Alberta the only province in Canada that adjudication of claims is based on an adversarial system. 

It seems no one wants to answer this very simple question which after one hundred years, the people adjudicating claims should know whether Alberta operates on a strict civil law standard where workers are regarded as plaintiffs rather than claimants. I would appreciate a response although I don’t expect you or any one else would have the intestinal fortitude to upset the sacred cow.  

Adding to this is that we have laws in Canada and in the province of Alberta which we as citizens are expected to obey. That being the case why is it that WCB and the Appeals Commission are not held to that standard and if they are not, then why should any one obey the law. Our courts, including the Supreme Court of Canada find that WCB and the Appeals Commission are not in compliance with the law and WCB and the Appeals Commission continue to ignore the law and if they are sued, claim an honest mistake. When is the Alberta Government going to either fix the system to comply with the Meredith Principles or simply get rid of the whole system and the scumbags that are placed in positions where they are allowed to abuse workers and their families. By the way I am not an injured worker, have never filed a claim but I would be amiss if I did not assist and care for the less fortunate in our society which is more than the Government can say as in my opinion, the Government does not give a rat’s ass as to what happens to injured and disabled workers.

  • Gerry Miller
Jun 222012
 

Click on the following link:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/06/21/bc-worksafebc-employee-bonus.html

Looks like Alberta is not the only workers compensation system that gives bonuses or blood money to their employees to force disabled workers back to work. As always, the governments stick their heads up their asses and pretend that all is okay.

Gerry Miller