Message from the Chair

After proudly serving as a board member for seven years, it was a great honour to be appointed Chair in 2018, an exciting and busy year that brought with it a lot of change.

Grace Thostenson
Chair, Board of Directors

Throughout 2018, WCB-Alberta implemented a series of legislative changes that were developed as a result of recommendations from the WCB Review Panel commissioned by the Minister of Labour, to find ways to enhance the workers’ compensation system and the benefits workers receive. Beyond the legislation, we are committed to making the recommendations and aspirations of the panel’s report, which reflected feedback from our valued stakeholders, a reality.

In addition to the many changes in our business last year, the organization also experienced a significant leadership change. After serving as President & CEO for over 16 years, Guy Kerr announced his retirement, leaving behind a legacy that reflected his exemplary stewardship. During Guy’s tenure, WCB-Alberta became one of the most financially stable and high-performing workers’ compensation boards in Canada.

Our new President & CEO is passionate and knowledgeable

Incoming President & CEO Trevor Alexander brings with him 32 years of experience with workers’ compensation, his most recent role as a senior vice president with WorkSafeBC. Trevor is recognized across Canada as an expert in workers’ compensation matters, which comes from his deep passion to make sure injured workers get the treatment, support and services they need to recover and return to a meaningful life. With Trevor’s knowledge, vision and commitment, we are excited about the future.

We will partner with all stakeholders, keeping the best interests of workers and employers a priority

Our new CEO’s arrival comes at a fortuitous time, as WCB-Alberta embarks on a journey to transform the organization from being outcome-based to one that achieves great outcomes in full partnership and collaboration with those we serve.

As a board, we continue to be committed to the strength and sustainability of the workers’ compensation system in Alberta. The year ahead promises to be a busy one. With a full complement of board members—a diverse group of individuals with a shared purpose—we feel prepared for the task at hand and any challenges that lay ahead.

Grace Thostenson
Chair, Board of Directors

Our results

In support of our strategic priorities, we set objectives each year to help ensure we deliver the best possible service to our stakeholders.

Customer outcomes

Customer satisfaction

Through timely, respectful and transparent interactions with workers and employers, we achieved an average customer satisfaction score of 88.1%.

Target: Exceed North American benchmark of 83.9%


We audit decisions throughout the life of a claim for accuracy and quality. We achieved an average score of 96.0% on those decisions.

Target: 90%

Customized return to work

Our success in engaging workers with complex claims is measured by feedback on whether they felt appropriately involved in planning their care and return to work. We achieved 87.8%.

Target: 85%

Key deliverables

Customer satisfaction

We exceeded our target by reducing call-back requests by 26% (for a total of 23,655 in 2018).

Target: Maintain call-back request volume achieved in 2017.

Medical care

Successful worker-focused care requires making sure that our workers feel satisfied with the medical treatment they received through their claim. We started measuring this in 2018 and achieved a baseline of 86.5%.

Target: Since this objective was new in 2018, no target was established. Instead, this result will be used to establish a benchmark for our performance going forward.

Proactive resolution

Our Customer Service teams are proactive in finding opportunities to resolve claim issues with workers and employers, without the need for a formal review. We achieved 36.4% resolution.

Target: 35%

Wage loss

We audit our overall plans for quality, which must include appropriate re-employment services and accurate wage-loss benefits. We achieved quality audit results of 97.2%.

Target: 90%

Financial sustainability

While the Alberta economy showed improvement over 2018, the recovery remained fragile and fell short of budget expectations. WCB experienced a $191.9 million deficit in customer operations as a result of higher claim costs and lower premium revenues.

Despite these economic challenges, one way we work to safeguard worker benefits is through prudent asset-liability management practices, to ensure funds are available to provide for future costs of current- and prior-year claims by achieving a minimum year-end funded ratio target of 114%. We achieved a funded ratio of 118.3%.


Implement all required operational changes stemming from the Government of Alberta Review Panel recommendations and legislative amendments.

The legislative changes introduced in 2018 gave us an opportunity to evolve the way the workers’ compensation system works for Albertans. We started the year with the first wave of changes effective January 1, 2018. We undertook extensive training, communication and change management efforts to help our staff understand the intent of the legislation so they could support our stakeholders, ensuring they felt prepared for the changes to the system and their businesses.

Modernize our systems to enhance service delivery to our partners.

Behind every client interaction is a robust network of systems and technology that support the work we do. A number of multi-phase system projects successfully reached key milestones in 2018.

The final phase of our employer account system enhancement was completed on budget and ahead of schedule, while the heart of our claim/worker payment and financial system continues on its six-year modernization. As we continue to develop new systems, we understand the importance of maintaining a strong focus on the data we are collecting and on how our systems communicate with each other. This integration of claim, financial and employer-related information allows us to create comprehensive reporting on the health of the overall compensation system.

2018 year at a glance

We covered nearly two million workers and over 160,000 employers. Here's a look at 2018, by the numbers...

2018 2017
Workers covered 1,884,400 1,862,169
Registered employers 162,981 162,531
Lost-time claim rate (per 100 workers)¹ 1.5 1.4
Disabling-injury claim rate (per 100 workers)¹ 2.7 2.7
New claims reported 132,346 125,432
Lost-time claims¹ 28,600 26,800
Fatality claims accepted 162 166
Ineligible lost-time claims (% of all lost-time claims) 9.0% 9.3%
New requests for review to the DRDRB 2,142 2,343
Return to work with accident employer 91.8% 92.8%
Return to work with new employer 2.1% 1.6%
Return to work overall 93.9% 94.4%
Estimated average claim duration (TTD days) 44.1 40.6
Cost-of-living adjustment on long-term benefits 1.20% 0.84%
Claim benefit expense (thousands) $1,106,349 $979,102
New non-economic loss and permanent disability awards 3,855 3,468
New economic loss awards 911 979
Maximum assessable earnings $98,700 $98,700
Premium revenue (thousands) $1,074,761 $1,039,544
Average collected premium rate
(per $100 of assessable earnings)
$1.05 $1.04
Investment income (thousands) $145,305 $1,077,966
Funded ratio (per cent funded) 118.3% 127.3%

¹Lost-time claims and the lost-time claim and disabling-injury rates are projected. This approach is taken to ensure claims for accidents occurring in 2018 but not reported by year-end are considered.

Legislation changes—a journey we navigated together

The WCB Review Panel asked many questions, consulted many stakeholders and examined our business for opportunities to improve the support our workers’ compensation system provides to Albertans. The results of their review helped inform legislation changes introduced throughout 2018 by Bill 30, An Act to Protect the Health and Well-Being of Working Albertans.

Incorporating these legislative changes wasn’t our journey alone; it was one we shared with all of our stakeholders. Through considerable communication, education and consultation efforts with our system partners, we were able to successfully implement each new piece of legislation and support the continued evolution of our workers’ compensation system.

Gathering input from our partners

Several of the changes that were introduced in 2018 provided the opportunity to consult with our stakeholders in order to get their feedback on how we could best implement the legislation. The feedback we received helped us explore all potential impacts and shaped our final policies and processes.

The pieces we consulted on included: Code of Rights and Conduct, process for estimating earning capacity, interim relief during review or appeal and employers’ obligation to reinstate injured workers.

Highlights of the 2018 legislation changes

Enhanced benefits for injured workers and their families

  • Improved compensation options for severely injured young workers so they can be compensated more closely to their earning potential
  • Enhanced retirement benefits to account for the potential impact of a workplace injury on retirement savings
  • Expanded fatality benefits for surviving spouses and dependent children
  • Employment health benefits that now continue while a worker is off work due to a workplace injury
Expanded presumptive coverage

These additional occupations and conditions are now automatically presumed to be work-related under the new legislation:

  • Heart attacks for paramedics,
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder for correctional officers and emergency dispatchers, and
  • Traumatic psychological injury claims for all workers who experience a traumatic event or series of events at work.

We’ve always covered these conditions when they’ve been confirmed to be work-related; however, this legislation means that these conditions will be presumed to be work-related for these occupations, unless the contrary is proven.

More support during the appeals process

Changes were introduced to the appeals process to make it easier for workers and employers and to offer extra support to help navigate the system:

  • The appeal window was extended to two years (from one), giving workers and employers more time to make an appeal to the Appeals Commission.
  • For exceptional circumstances during the appeal process, interim relief was introduced to help workers and employers who demonstrate financial hardship.
  • Our Office of the Appeals Advisor moved to become part of the newly established Fair Practices Office, which helps workers and employers navigate the workers’ compensation system and raise concerns about fairness, and provides advocacy services for people seeking an appeal.
New responsibilities for workers and employers

Employers are now obligated to reinstate their workers after a workplace injury, and workers and employers are expected to work together towards a return to the same workplace. To help with this transition, we are making sure workers get the support they need to recover and employers are involved and engaged in return-to-work planning, so they’re prepared when their worker is able to return to full or modified duties.

Although this obligation is new, it reflects the priorities of many Alberta employers, who helped 92.8% of injured workers return to their date-of-accident employer in 2017 and 91.8% in 2018.


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