Legislative changes

The Government of Alberta recently passed legislative changes for the workers’ compensation system. Some of these changes will be effective January 1, 2021, while others will become effective April 1, 2021. 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

2021 review roadmap

Our review roadmap provides an overview of the legislative changes, including effective dates.

  • Legislative changes have also been made to the Workers' Compensation Act regarding the Fair Practices Office, Medical Panels Office and Appeals Commission.
  • In addition to the above legislative changes, the Government of Alberta introduced the Heroes Compensation Act, to be administered by WCB.
  • For specific details about these changes and corresponding timelines, please refer to Bill 47: Ensuring Safety and Cutting Red Tape Act, 2020.

2021 legislation and policy changes

Navigate through the tabs to learn more about the 2021 legislation and policy changes. Additional resources will be available here as changes become effective.

Effective January 1, 2021

  • Reinstate maximum cap on workers’ compensable earnings. Workers with a date of accident on or after January 1, 2021, will be compensated at 90% of their yearly net earnings, to a maximum of $98,700.

    This maximum amount covers full wages for approximately 93% of Albertans.
  • Cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) calculation is set annually by the WCB Board of Directors. Workers eligible for a cost of living increase will receive 0.84% as of January 1, 2021.

Effective January 1, 2021

  • Presumptive coverage for traumatic psychological injuries will apply to first responders, correctional officers and emergency dispatchers only. If a first responder, correctional officer or emergency dispatcher is formally diagnosed with a psychological injury after exposure to a traumatic event(s) at work, we will presume the injury is related to their job, unless the contrary is proven.

    Traumatic and chronic psychological injuries are also covered for all workers in other occupations where there is evidence to support the injury arose out of and during the course of employment.

Additional resources

Visit the psychological injuries page for further details on coverage and other supporting resources.

Effective January 1, 2021

  • In the event a worker is terminated from modified work due to willful egregious conduct, WCB will pay benefits as though the modified work is still in place.

    We will work closely with stakeholders to define egregious conduct and develop the policies necessary to support this change.

Effective April 1, 2021

  • Duty to cooperate for both workers and employers. Employers will have a duty to cooperate in their injured workers’ safe return to work, while injured workers will have a duty cooperate in the development and participation of their medical and vocational rehabilitation plans.

    The duty to cooperate will replace the obligation for employers to reinstate their workers after a workplace injury.

    We will work closely with stakeholders to develop the policies necessary to support this change.

Effective April 1, 2021

  • Align the window for appeals to the Appeals Commission with the existing one-year window for review by the Dispute Resolution and Decision Review Body (DRDRB).

Effective April 1, 2021

  • Fairness review services will be provided by WCB and overseen by a new Fairness Review Officer accountable to WCB's Board of Directors. These services will review the fairness of the adjudication process only. A separate process for reviewing decisions remains in effect.

    Appeals advisory services for workers and employers will be provided through the Appeals Commission and remain free of charge.

    We will work closely with stakeholders to develop the policies necessary to support this change.

Effective April 1, 2021

  • Employers are no longer required to contribute to group health benefit plans for injured workers who are off work. Injured workers will continue to receive medical and rehabilitation benefits related to their injury from WCB through the life of their claim. Employers may voluntarily opt to cover health benefits after an injury.
  • The roster of independent medical examiners will be maintained by WCB. If an independent medical exam is requested by WCB, the injured worker has the right to select the physician of their choice from the roster to conduct the exam.
  • The core services delivered by Medical Panels Office will transition to the Appeals Commission and will be provided by the Medical Panels Commissioner. The Commissioner will continue to assist in the resolution of differences in medical opinions related to an injured worker’s claim. Medical opinions will not be issued based on the principle of benefit of the doubt in favour of the worker. Benefit of the doubt continues to be in favour of the worker when determining claim eligibility and in appeal decisions.