SFL Calls For Presumptive Workers Compensation Coverage During COVID-19

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour is renewing its call for the provincial government to enact presumptive workers compensation coverage for workers exposed to COVID-19 while on the job.

“Many Saskatchewan workers are putting themselves at risk so they can provide us with essential services, in our hospitals and long term care homes, schools, grocery stores and public services,” said SFL President Lori Johb. “Workers need to be assured that workers compensation coverage will be there for them when they need it.”

Johb said that presumptive workers compensation coverage would make the claims process easier for workers, and help those who become sick with COVID-19 on the job access the supports they need. Saskatchewan currently has presumptive coverage for those who suffer from psychological injuries, where workers do not have to prove a work-related cause or link to their injury when making a workers compensation claim.

“Workers who become sick with COVID-19 should not be forced to go through a long claims process in order to access workers compensation benefits,” Johb said. “Workers have been here for us all throughout the pandemic and they deserve these benefits if they become sick. It’s time for the provincial government to act now.”

Johb also raised concern about the low number of COVID-19 claims being submitted and accepted by the Workers Compensation Board (WCB). Numbers reported recently show that despite outbreaks and exposures at businesses and long term care facilities across the province, only 30 per cent of the 232 claims related to COVID-19 submitted to the WCB have been approved - one of the lowest rates of approved COVID-19 claims of all the provinces.

“We’ve heard of workers that have been exposed to the virus in their workplace who got sick and don’t even know that they are able to make a workers compensation claim,” Johb said.

“A strong message needs to be sent to all employers that they must inform workers about their access to workers compensation, and how to fill out the necessary forms to make a claim. Workers compensation exists to help workers who become injured or sick on the job, and that includes COVID-19. The provincial government owes it to workers to make sure they have access to this vital support when they need it.”

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