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Higher penalties for claims suppression, greater rewards for proactive employers coming to Manitoba

By COS staff

The Manitoba government has proclaimed the Workers Compensation Amendment Act, which puts in place new measures to protect workers and prevent injuries in the workplace, Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun has announced.

“Every worker in Manitoba deserves to come home safe at the end of the day,” said Braun. “This new law is one more step toward making the province the safest place to work in North America.”

The amendments establish a prevention committee as part of the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) to oversee and provide guidance to the Manitoba government’s workplace prevention initiative, SAFE Work Manitoba. It will provide oversight to SAFE Work Manitoba on prevention initiatives, public awareness campaigns and strategic planning and budgeting.

The amendments also broaden worker protection by increasing penalties and requiring an employer who takes discriminatory action against a worker to prove the action was unrelated to the worker making a claim.

Braun said Bill 65 builds on a Five-year Plan for Workplace Injury and Illness Prevention. Bill 65 commits to introduce greater rewards for employers who take action to make workplaces safer, higher penalties for employers who suppress claims and greater clarity around responsibilities for reporting workplace injuries. The new compliance measures will come into force in January 2015.

The minister noted that in addition to improved enforcement, a comprehensive review of the WCB rate model is currently underway, aimed at encouraging real prevention, strengthening system accountability and removing financial incentives to minimize or suppress claims.

“We know from WCB research that claim suppression is happening far too often, to far too many workers,” said Braun. “New staff and resources are being put in place to investigate allegations of claim suppression. This amendment will complement that work.”

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