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Effecting “Real” Change in the WCB System

The opportunity exists for WCB-Alberta to become the standard bearer in how all compensation systems are administered in order to achieve:

  1. Accountability for all stakeholders
  2. Real time decision-making capability (that is, the same day claim information is submitted, a decision is provided)
  3. Collaborative approach for returning injured employees back to the workplace.

The goal remains “no time loss.” This is essential to ensure that injured employees are not victimized by the bureaucracy (through an erosion of the occupational bond) and to keep WCB premiums to a minimum. This goal is even more critical in key industries where good safety statistics determine whether a contract is awarded or not. Multi-million dollar contracts are being won or lost due to the number of time lost incidents and the number of time lost days. Progressive employers have concluded that they can no longer afford to wait for WCB to manage their injured employee’s rehabilitation and return-to-work.

WCB is being challenged to keep pace with the level of early intervention and involvement from this group of employers. Unfortunately, they are not able to provide the expedited adjudication that is required. Indeed, it can be easily demonstrated that WCB is the cause of unnecessary time lost claims and unnecessary time loss days.

Currently time loss is resulting from three sources:

  • Safety failures (result of poor safety by the Employer)
  • Employers not being actively involved in the process (mismanagement)
  • Inability of WCB to provide early intervention in return-to-work planning

WCB is failing to fulfill its mission on focusing on return-to-work and as a result, is responsible for unnecessary time loss. Currently, the goal from date of accident to acceptance of a claim and first payment is 14 days (to be obtained 85% of the time). Furthermore, the average duration of lost time claim now stands at 34.2 days. WCB business procedures state that a return-to-work plan must be developed 10 days from claim acceptance. The best case of 24 days is unacceptable in today’s highly competitive market, which requires “same day as injury” return-to-work planning and implementation.

Call to Action:

  • WCB must meet a new standard of service delivery by obtaining “real time,” same day adjudication.
  • WCB needs to encourage employers through the Experience Rating Program to engage in greater case management activities and penalize those that do not.
  • WCB needs to re-examine their role and move towards adjudication and away from Case Management wherever possible.

In Alberta, we have the opportunity to effect real service delivery improvement due to the following:

  • Current structure of WCB adjudication
  • Progressive Employers with a vested interest; and
  • Fact that only 1% of employers are responsible for the majority of WCB claims.

To achieve real time decision making employers must take on the case management role more aggressively. WCB needs enhanced collaboration with respect to information gathering and development of return-to-work proposals. If the employer is “doing the heavy lifting” then it is reasonable to expect real time service delivery from the WCB.

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