Nova Scotia turns to public in fixing workers’ compensation

By Terry Davidson

Law360 Canada (October 27, 2023, 10:44 AM EDT) -- Citing “work” needing to be done, Nova Scotia’s government is asking residents for their thoughts on how to update the province’s workers’ compensation system — and how to prevent workplace harassment.

An Oct. 24 news release notes that Nova Scotia’s Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration, along with an eight-member review committee made up of both employer and employee representatives, “is overseeing the review of the system.”

“We know there is work to do to improve workers’ compensation,” said Labour, Skills and Immigration Minister Jill Balser in a statement. “The system needs to be updated with today’s workplaces in mind to be the best it can be for Nova Scotians. We also want all workers to feel safe at work — not just physically but psychologically, too.”

The release notes that the Workers’ Compensation Board of Nova Scotia (WCBNS) provides workplace injury insurance to employers and employees in the province.

It was acknowledged that Nova Scotia’s workplace compensation system was last reviewed back in 2002, and that the province “lags behind other jurisdictions in areas such as workers’ access to coverage, employer assessment rates and benefits.”

According to the WCBNS, employer assessment rates involve determining the insurance premiums paid by employers.

The release states that the public will also be consulted on workplace harassment, and that information gathered will help “create rules” aimed at employer efforts around prevention.

It notes that Nova Scotia remains “the only jurisdiction in the country without any legislation, regulation or policy to support harassment-free workplaces.”

“Nova Scotians can share their input on both the workers’ compensation system and harassment in the workplace at in-person and virtual sessions and through an online survey and written submissions,” it states.

Karen Adams, CEO of the WCBNS, said the board is “pleased to participate” in the review.

“We look forward to having conversations with workers and employers that help highlight both the things we’re doing well and the areas that need to improve,” said Adams. “Guided by input from those we serve and by our upcoming strategic plan for 2024-2030, we’re ready to serve working Nova Scotians in new and better ways in the years to come.”

Residents can provide input through an online survey, virtual sessions, written submissions and in-person sittings. In-person sessions will take place in places such as Halifax, Yarmouth, Digby, Truro and Amherst. A complete list can be found in the news release, as can dates for all in-person sittings, virtual sessions and surveys.

In 2022, 73 per cent of Nova Scotia’s workforce had compensation coverage, according to information from the government.

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