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Bill 47: Occupational Health & Safety and Workers’ Compensation Victory!

On November 5, 2020 the Alberta government announced Bill 47 – Ensuring Safety and Cutting Red Tape Act. The changes outlined in the bill are a huge CFIB VICTORY on reducing costs and red tape while ensuring safety for Alberta small businesses and their employees. Bill 47 is currently being debated and is expected to pass within the coming months.

After countless advocacy letters, consultations, submissions, and meetings with government officials, CFIB was successful in getting the current government to make changes to Alberta’s occupational health and safety regulations and the Workers’ Compensation Act. The government incorporated many of CFIB’s recommendations made in submissions to public consultations.

Occupational health and safety changes

The government HEARD and LISTENED to our members who made it clear in a 2018 survey the rules around health and safety committees (HSC) and health and safety representatives (HSR) did not give them the flexibility needed to operate their business efficiently and were costly.

The requirements of 20 or more workers for an HSC and five to 19 workers for a HSR remain the same. 

Changes to HSC and HST in Bill 47 include:

  • Eliminating mandatory health and safety committees and representatives on sites with multiple employers 
    • For example, HSCs and HSRs will no longer be mandatory on work sites with multiple employers and a prime contractor
  • Health and safety committees and representatives’ thresholds have been changed and will now be based on the number of workers regularly employed by the employer 
    • For example, a seasonal business where the number of employees fluctuates does not need to go from having a HSR or HSC and then back again
  • More flexible health and safety program requirements
    • The OHS Act will remove mandatory elements for programs
    • Working with Labour and Immigration, employers and workers will have the flexibility to develop programs that best suit their workplace

Workers Compensation changes 

The also government HEARD and LISTENED to our members and made significant changes to the Workers’ Compensation Act. Although the government did not make changes to the funded position of the WCB or the accident fund, they did make other significant changes:  

  • Presumptive PTSD coverage – CFIB recommendation
    • Presumptive coverage for psychological injuries will be limited to firefighters, police officers, paramedics, peace officers, correctional officers and emergency dispatchers
  • Obligation to reinstate – CFIB recommendation
    • Employers will not be legally obligated to reinstate an injured worker.
  • COLA (cost of living) new formula – CFIB recommendation
    • The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) will calculate cost of living adjustments for compensation benefits as needed, rather than being adjusted automatically based only on the Alberta consumer price index. 
  • Maximum Insurable Earnings Cap – CFIB recommendation
    • A maximum insurable earnings cap will be reinstated. Injured workers will be compensated at 90 per cent of their pre-injury net earnings up to a maximum earnings cap
  • Continuation of employer health benefits – CFIB recommendation
    • Employers will no longer have to contribute to health benefit plans for injured workers who are off work