The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide only general information on legal issues within the province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation. The purpose is to make you aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.
This topic will discuss workers’ compensation in Alberta.
In Alberta, the Workers’ Compensation Board assumes liability for all work-related injuries of employees. Employers pay a premium for insurance to WCB (Workers Compensation Board) and WCB pays the compensation for the work-related injuries of employees. If you are entitled to compensation from WCB because of the accident, you cannot sue your employer or anyone else involved. You should consult with a lawyer if you believe that you are entitled to compensation over WCB benefits. WCB will pay compensation to employees for work-related injuries regardless of whom or what caused the injury. The amount of the compensation depends upon the seriousness of the injury and whether you had to take time off from work.
Not all employers and employees are covered by WCB as they (WCB) exempt certain industries from mandatory (compulsory) coverage. For example, the operation of employment agencies, golf courses and massage services are just a few types of industries that are exempt. Check with your employer or WCB to see if you are covered by WCB. If you own a business, you must apply for personal coverage from WCB.
WCB compensates for injuries that occur in the work place, including work-related accidents and diseases. Injuries include broken bones, severe cuts and burns, strains or sprains caused by doing the same thing every day and occupational diseases. Occupational diseases are those caused by certain working conditions. For example, coal miners often develop black lung from working in the coal mines. WCB may also cover a re-injury if you hurt an old workplace injury during work. Injuries that are notcovered by WCB are health problems not related to your work. For example, diabetes, arthritis, old sports injuries are not covered by WCB. If your health problem is made worse by a work-related injury, WCB may compensate you for the time it takes you recover. WCB will review each case individually. Accidents that occur while driving back and forth to work are not covered although some exceptions may apply.
Keeps a detailed record of the incidents surrounding your accident and injury. List all witness names, addresses and phone numbers who saw the accident. Record the dates that you went to the Doctors, spoke to WCB and to whom, the names of the medical professionals you visited, the medication you received, the medical treatments you had, all expenses related to your claim and time lost from work. WCB will want the original receipts for your expenses so make copies for your own records.
Report your injury to your employer and WCB immediately including the medical treatment you required and the time you had to take away from work. Your employer then must make an Employer Report to WCB for your injury within 72 hours. You must see a Doctor and return a Worker’s Report of Injury to WCB as soon as possible. Your doctor must complete a report and send it to WCB within 48 hours of your visit. You should hear from WCB within 7 days if your claim is complete with all required information. If you do not report your claim and more than a year has passed, WCB may still consider the claim if you had a good reason for not reporting the claim.
The personal information you give to WCB is protected under the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Your consent is required before your personal information can be released to anyone. You may request information from your file claim and have it mailed to you or you can pick it up.
If you wish to have someone represent you (as your Agent) to deal with your claim information, you must advise WCB of whom you wish to represent you. You may have a friend, family member, interpreter, injured work representative, labour union advocate, lawyer or WC B Appeals Advisor act as your representative. File the appropriate form with WCB advising them who that representative (Agent) is.
If your claim is approved for compensation by WCB, you will be notified by letter. On the day you were injured, your employer must pay for the entire day. The day you were injured cannot be taken as a sick day. WCB will begin paying the benefits after the day you were injured starting the next working day. The benefits you receive will depend upon the injury or illness caused by your work. If you cannot work due to your injury, WCB will pay 90% of your net income up to a maximum amount. Net income is your usual salary less income tax, CPP and employment insurance premiums. WCB does not pay for union dues, Alberta Health Care premiums and other deductions that you pay. WCB may include earnings from a second job if your injury prevents you doing that job as well. You must provide proof of income to WCB. The benefits paid are not taxable although you must report the benefit income to Revenue Canada. Your benefits will continue as long as you are not able to return to work due to your injury.
You are also compensated for the cost of health care based on your individual situation. For example, the following benefits may be paid:
- Hospital expenses.
- Medical treatments including chiropractic and physiotherapy treatments and counseling sessions.
- Artificial limbs, eyeglasses or dentures. WCB pays for the replacement or repairs costs if damaged during a workplace accident.
- Dental treatment.
- Braces, crutches, canes, hearings aids and other aids.
- Orthodontic shoes.
WCB may also pay for travel expenses if the treatment you require is not available in your community. Contact your adjudicator or case manager to find out if you are eligible for this benefit.
WCB adjudicators and case managers will decide whether you are fit to return to work based on the doctor’s reports and other health care providers. You may return to work to the same tasks or to different tasks. You may also have to work less hours. The benefits you are paid will be adjusted accordingly. If you find it difficult to return to work, WCB may decide you should take some job training for another type of work. They may provide you with vocational rehabilitation services such as supported job search programs, training and counseling. If you cannot return to work for reasons that are not related to work, then you may have to find other type of insurance coverage such as employment insurance or CPP disability benefit.