2018 Updates

The Government of Alberta has concluded its review of the workers' compensation system and has now passed legislation for enhancements to the system. Some of these changes came into effect Jan. 1, 2018, while others will become effective at different times in 2018.

As we work to implement new legislation, we are committed to keeping you informed and consulting with our stakeholders on areas where we need further input.

Stay informed and provide your input: sign up for our newsletter and policy updates.

For an overview of upcoming changes, effective dates and plans for stakeholder consultation, please refer to our review roadmap.

  • Legislative changes have also been made to the Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) regarding the Medical Panels Office and Appeals Commission.
    Some of these changes came into force on proclamation of Bill 30, while others come into force throughout 2018.
  • The establishment of a Fair Practices Office has also been included in the WCA and will be effective December 2018.
  • For specific details about these changes and corresponding timelines, please refer to Bill 30.
  • Changes effective Jan. 1

      Below is a summary of legislative changes that came into effect Jan. 1, 2018. A number of these changes required updates to existing policies which you can review in our Policy and Information Manual.

    • A new lump-sum fatality benefit (up to $90,772.20) will be provided to the spouse or dependent(s) of a worker who dies as a result of a workplace injury or illness.
    • Enhanced retirement benefits will be provided to help workers who were unable to contribute to a pension plan because of their reduced earnings while they were on wage loss benefits:
      • A new lump-sum benefit will be provided to workers who received an economic loss payment (either temporary or long-term) for two or more consecutive years before regaining their earnings capacity.
      • Normal retirement age has been extended to age 65 or five years following the date of accident, whichever is later.
      • The calculation for retirement adjustment benefits has changed.
    • Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) calculation is now based on 100 per cent of the change in the Alberta Consumer Price Index (i.e., the previous 0.5 per cent reduction has been removed).
    • Policy has been updated to make it clearer that workers have the right to choose their own health care provider (providers will continue to be required to meet an established criteria).
    • Legislation now includes a regular review schedule for the workers’ compensation system. Our next review will be in three years, and then reviews will happen every five years after that.
    • Safety associations funded through WCB-collected levies will receive their grant installments from WCB only after satisfying oversight requirements established and delivered by Occupational Health & Safety.
  • Upcoming changes and opportunities to provide input

      In addition to the changes introduced on Jan. 1, 2018, several changes will come into effect throughout 2018 that require policy consultation. The following draft policies have been posted on our website for your feedback:

    • Creation of a Code of Rights and Conduct that articulates the rights of workers and employers in their interactions with us and how we commit to operate in recognition of these rights.
    • Provision of interim relief for workers and employers while their matters are under appeal.
    • Establishment of employers’ obligation to return injured workers to work (and workers’ responsibility to cooperate).
    • Amending the process for estimating earning capacity to ensure WCB has demonstrated every reasonable effort has been made to help an injured worker's job search.
    • Additional changes will come into effect in 2018 that do not require policy consultation since legislation is very clear in its direction. However, some related policies may be updated as a result of the new legislation.

    • Benefit changes
      • Remove the cap for maximum insurable earnings.
      • Provide presumptive psychological injury coverage for workers who experience a traumatic event at work and are diagnosed with a psychological injury.
      • Expand presumption of myocardial infarction to paramedics.
      • Expand presumptive coverage of post-traumatic stress disorder to correctional officers and emergency dispatchers.
      • Enhance benefits for all surviving spouses.
      • Provide the ability to adjust the benefits of severely injured young workers to mitigate the hardship they might otherwise experience.
      • Continue coverage for injured workers under their employers’ existing health benefits program.
    • Claim process enhancements
      • Extend the window for appeal to the Appeals Commission to two years after a decision from the Dispute Resolution and Decision Review Body.
      • Ensure the approach to treatment coverage reflects and responds to the unique and individualized needs of each worker.
      • Ensure the use of predominant cause for claim acceptability does not create an unreasonable threshold of eligibility.

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