Posted on Jun 3, 2021
NDP INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO PROVIDE COVERAGE FOR ESSENTIAL ALBERTA WORKERS WHO CONTRACT COVID-19 ON THE JOB
EDMONTON – Today the Alberta NDP introduced legislation to provide protection for essential workers who become infected with COVID-19 while on the job.
“The threat of COVID-19 has been constant for essential workers for over a year. These workers have cared for our loved ones, provided essential services and kept our economy going during this unprecedented health crisis. We need to support them,” said Heather Sweet, MLA for Edmonton-Manning who introduced the legislation as a Private Members Bill.
There is no formal description of COVID-19 as an occupational disease in current WCB policy, and while the Workers Compensation Board say it is “likely” that a claim is to be accepted if the worker contracts the illness while working their essential service job, 18% of COVID-19 claims to the WCB have been denied over the last year.
“As we look forward to reopening plans, there is no doubt that we will see long term effects from COVID-19. We are only beginning to understand the impacts of long-haul symptoms,” said Sweet. “Without this presumption that employees are at risk of getting COVID at their job, a WCB claim can trigger a long and costly investigation, delaying the worker’s access to benefits.”
Other provinces have introduced similar presumptive coverage for workers. British Columbia included presumptive COVID coverage in their Workers Compensation Act in August 2020. Ontario added COVID-19 as an occupational disease to their Workplace Safety and Insurance act in March 2020.
The NDP’s bill will also restore the PTSD provision removed by the UCP in Bill 47.
“We need appropriate support to help frontline workers get through this in a healthy way and to care for them as they have worked so hard to care for all of us,” said Sweet.