Questions By Members, 25 November 2016
Source: Legislative Assembly of PEI

Workers Compensation Board concerns

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

A series of reports last year from the Ontario Federation of Labour found that their workplace safety and insurance board not only routinely interferes with the medical care of injured workers, but also that it pressures health professionals to change their diagnoses to the detriment of injured workers. The same situation is also emerging in Alberta where they have an ongoing review.

Similar concerns about the WCB here in PEI have been raised with members of this House

A question to the Premier: What action has government taken to investigate concerns with our Workers Compensation Board?

Speaker: The hon. Premier.

Premier MacLauchlan: Mr. Speaker, I’d welcome the hon. member to present or table in this House the information that he’s referring to.

The Workers Compensation Board is an independent or an arm’s length body from government. We have an interactive relationship with the chair or the board so we’d be happy to take up this question and to pursue it, if there’s some evidence that the hon. member would like us to consider.

Thank you.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, your first supplementary question.

Recourse for injured workers

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

This government has repeatedly expressed how essential it is that government remain connected to the people which it serves and to improve accessibility, accountability, and transparency.

A question to the Premier: What recourse do Islanders, and especially injured workers, have if they feel they have been treated unfairly by a government department or office?

Speaker: The hon. Premier.

Premier MacLauchlan: Mr. Speaker, in the case of workers’ compensation, there is a workers’ compensation appeal board, and people have the opportunity to pursue that avenue, and they have the opportunity to speak with a case worker or with officials at workers’ compensation.

As the hon. member has indicated, members of the public will approach their MLA, and we can be very thankful that we’ve got 27 MLAs representing across the province so the people can have access to them.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: The hon. Leader of the Third Party, your second supplementary question.

Ombudsperson’s office

Dr. Bevan-Baker: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

As I alluded to in my preamble to my first question, a series of reports have clearly demonstrated that there are problems with this process in Ontario and in Alberta, and I suspect here in Prince Edward Island as well.

When this government first came into office in 2007 one of its election promises was the creation of an ombudsperson’s office. Currently, Prince Edward Island is the only province or territory in the country without such an office.

Could the Premier tell this House if there are any plans to revisit the creation of an ombudsperson’s office and if not, why not?

Speaker: The hon. Premier.

Premier MacLauchlan: Mr. Speaker, as I said in response to the previous question, Prince Edward Islanders have a great advantage in that we have 27 members of the Legislature representing approximately 4,000 people apiece, and those people have access to their MLAs, and I think we’re all proud to serve in that role.

Further, I have to go back to the first point that was raised, that there was somehow interference with the professionals in the workers’ compensation process. I encourage the member or other members who have evidence along those lines not to be quoting reports from Alberta or somewhere else, but to bring forward that evidence and we’ll be happy to address it.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


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