NDP PROPOSES AMENDMENTS TO PROTECT WORKERS FROM UCP’S BILL 47
EDMONTON – The UCP government’s Bill 47 proposes dangerous changes to the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
“Given the cruel comments Jason Kenney made last week, blaming workers in North East Calgary for the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19, it is clear the Premier does not understand what workers are experiencing right now. We are proposing a series of amendments that will protect workers during this pandemic, and in the years to come,” said Christina Gray, Labour & Immigration Critic for the NDP.
The NDP are proposing a number of changes to Bill 47, to improve safety and maintain important supports injured workers rely on to recover. Currently in Bill 47, the UCP is taking away the right of the worker to have their health benefits covered by their employer for the first year of the pandemic.
“This would mean that an injured worker would lose the health benefits that protect their family, like the asthma inhaler coverage for their child. We would like the UCP to reconsider this heartless decision.” said Gray.
Also in Bill 47, the UCP proposed to remove the 90% coverage for lost wages. The NDP are proposing an amendment to re-insert the existing provision that ensures workers have the coverage they need for them and their families.
The UCP has watered down the right to refuse dangerous work within Bill 47 in two ways, by changing the definition of dangerous work and by introducing a more complicated process that no longer requires an employer to notify other workers of the initial refusal. This would leave many workers vulnerable, particularly lower income and marginalized workers, as COVID-19 makes workplaces less safe and poses a threat for those already dealing with precarious employment.
Bill 47 includes the removal of employers duty to reinstate injured workers.
“We know that in the past, before the NDP government’s reforms, that people had been fired for making WCB claims. During the pandemic, workers need all of the protections possible, and we will try to amend the bill to reinstate this protection.” said Gray. “The UCP are continuing their endless attack on Alberta workers and it needs to stop”.
Bill 47 sees the removal of the Fair Practices Office, moving any disputes over fairness with the WCB to just one position. In 2019 alone, the Fair Practices Office received over 300 fairness issues, with approximately 100 being determined to be a breach. This is too large a workload for one position.
The UCP’s Bill 47 also removes the presumptive coverage for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“We believe that anyone who experiences trauma in the workplace should have the ability to receive compensation if that trauma inhibits their ability to work, without having to fight to prove it. Doctors, nurses, and front line workers are fighting in the trenches every day against this pandemic, and the UCP aren’t considering the long lasting negative impacts this will have. Not just for doctors and nurses, but the social workers and support workers who are facing new and dangerous, potentially traumatic, events in the workplace.” said Gray. “We in the NDP Official Opposition will try to amend Bill 47 because working Albertans deserve much better than what the UCP government has brought forward.”