AIR CANADA COMPONENT EXECUTIVE
WORKPLACE INJURY CLAIMS: Fourth Quarter 2010
October November December
2010 2009 2010 2009 2010 2009
YVR 10 13 10 11 14 11
YYC 4 4 5 6 3 6
YYZ 26 34 20 32 24 27
YUL 8 12 5 12 5 13
SYS 48 63 40 61 56 57
After a spike in the third quarter of 2010, the number of reported workplace injury claims in
Vancouver returned closer to average levels. In October, Vancouver claims dipped well below the same month in 2009, remained constant through November, and ended the year with a moderate increase over December of 2009.
Calgary remained constant at or below the corresponding number of claims for 2009, and ended the year with only half the number of claims reported in December 2009.
In Toronto, the numbers appear to be good with significant decreases in the number of claims in both October and November over the same period in 2009, and ending the year with a moderate decrease when compared with the previous December. The November total of 20 new claims represents a three year low for Toronto.
The “Big Winner” in the fourth quarter of 2010 is Montreal. A major and indeed unprecedented drop in claims was seen with the numbers dropping down to single digits. In November and December the number of claims appears to have dropped by over fifty per cent from the previous year.
Although the WSIB Committee is very pleased to report these results, we view such an extreme drop in numbers with some skepticism. Our data is extracted directly from ReportLink where coding errors are ubiquitous. Be that as it may, our Montreal based members are to be congratulated for their determination to work safely, particularly throughout the busy holiday season.
System-wide, we did very well over the fourth quarter of 2010 showing a significant drop in reported claims during each month over the same period in 2009. Our only concern here, is that more and more, our members are coming to realize how time-consuming, and frustrating the Workers’ Compensation claims process can be; this may be leading to a lack of will when faced with the decision to report injuries.
CLOSER PARTNERSHIP WITH WIP:
The WSIB Committee has always encouraged our members to claim for WIP benefits along with Workers’ Compensation Benefits in case the WC claim is not allowed, or is prematurely terminated. WIP will shadow the claim and pay benefits in accordance with its adjudication policies if the WC claim runs into a snag. Further, our members may be entitled to a top-up from WIP in addition to their WC benefits depending upon the amount of extra flying they did during the twelve months prior to their injury. In the past, this appeared to be where the synergy between the two processes ended. We set out to change that.
In November of 2010, it was our pleasure to visit our third party administrator for the Wage Indemnity Plan, Manion Wilkins and Associates, where we gave a PowerPoint presentation to the Disability Claims Team. The focus of the presentation centred on the criteria for allowing a Workers’ Compensation claim, why certain claims are denied, and what the applicable differences are between the various provincial Acts and policies governing Workers’ Compensation in the provinces where crew bases are housed.
The presentation was very well received and a number of their concerns were addressed to their satisfaction. The team now has a better understanding of the claims process for Workers’ Compensation, and when it would be appropriate to advise our members claiming WIP to initiate the same process with their provincial Workers’ Compensation Board.
The Team at MWA now has the WSIB Committee brochures for each base. They will also be receiving a copy of each new WSIB Committee Update as it is released to the membership. In general, the team now has a better understanding of what services are offered by the Committee, which has led to an increase in the number of Appeals being filed – as well it should.
We look forward to working more closely with our partners at Manion Wilkins and Associates, in order to ensure that our injured members are better cared for, and that loss of earnings benefits flow from the appropriate source. In this manner, our employer will be held more accountable for workplace injuries; and the security of our Wage Indemnity Trust Fund is appropriately protected.
WSIB COMMITTEE UPDATE: ISSUE 8: COVERAGE WHILE ON LAYOVERS
Never in the past, has a WSIB Committee Update generated such robust feedback. Most of the members we heard from felt that the bulletin did not go far enough in its explanation. The membership wants a definite list of those activities that are covered, and those that are not. This is impossible for three main reasons: Each crew base is governed by a different provincial policy, some Boards address the issue more directly that others, and each case is judged according to its own merits.
The purpose of the bulletin was to give each member the opportunity to read through the policy on business travel as it applies to the provincial jurisdiction where they are based and/or reside. In the past, the WSIB Committee has lobbied for greater clarity with respect to this issue, but has not been successful. In every provincial Workers’ Compensation Act, there is a clause entitled “Merits and Justice”. This clause precludes any greater clarity regarding the applicable policy. It allows each Claims Adjudicator to consider each case on its own merit. Such decisions are not bound by jurisprudence, or by what a different provincial Workers’ Compensation Board has determined. So, what might be allowed by WSIB Ontario, might be denied by WCB Alberta.
Hopefully, this bulletin has created awareness among the membership as to what each policy states, and as such, provides some guidelines regarding activities while on layovers. We hope it will also correct some erroneous assumptions as to Workers’ Compensation coverage.
Whenever an injury occurs while on a layover, we recommend the member complete the Flight Attendant Injury Accident Report (ACF 32-8), as well as an application for WIP benefits. Under most circumstances in most provinces (with the probable exception of Alberta), our members are covered while in the layover hotel, while engaged in what is considered a “reasonable act”. This could include the use of a hotel restaurant or coffee shop, and normal activities within the hotel room such as bathing. Coverage will also be extended to include injuries from hazards within the hotel premises, such as loose carpeting.
Member are less likely to be covered while in a hotel bar, or fitness facility. The further a member’s activities take him/her from the layover hotel, the less likely that s/he will be covered by WCB/WSIB/CSST benefits. This is as close as we can come to a specific rule.
NEW TERM: NEW NAME??
We would like to thank our new Component President, Jeff Taylor, for our re-appointment to another term.
Among our objectives for the next two years is to make the WSIB Committee more inclusive. We are a Component Committee; we provide services to our members in six provinces. (We still have members on claim in Manitoba and Nova Scotia.) Yet the name of our committee has relevance in only one province.
WSIB stands for the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board – of Ontario. The Ontario Board used to be called the Workers’ Compensation Board of Ontario. Then, under a mean-spirited and repressive Conservative Premier, Mr. Harris, the provincial Act, operational policies, and the name of the Board, were changed.
As a result of this change, injured workers in Ontario were stripped of many hard-fought rights and benefits. Today, there is no mention of the words “Workers” or “Compensation” in the Ontario Board’s name. Other provinces such as British Columbia and New Brunswick have followed suit.
Historically, all provincial Boards included “Workers’ Compensation” in their name. It is a tradition dating back to January 1915, when the very first Workmen’s Compensation Act was passed in Ontario. The same name was used when similar Acts were passed in Nova Scotia in April 1915, followed by British Columbia and Manitoba in 1917, Alberta in 1918, and Quebec in 1931. The term “Workmen” was eventually and appropriately changed to “Workers” as more women entered the workforce.
The name has a rich history and is a testament to nearly a century of struggle, and hard-fought rights that organized labour has achieved for injured workers across Canada. We also note that CUPE National, even in Ontario, refuses to use WSIB. It uses the name Workers’ Compensation Services, which restores the original name to its rightful place.
We therefore respectfully propose that the name of the Component WSIB Committee be changed to the Workers’ Compensation Committee. It is respectful of our history as a union, and is more inclusive of our membership at all four CUPE Locals.
We want to ensure that every member of the Component knows that if they sustain a workplace injury, regardless of where they are based, they can come to their union for help.
ADDENDUM I: PROPOSED MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING FOR TIMELY AND SAFE
RETURN TO WORK
ADDENDUM II: PROPOSED LETTER OF UNDERSTANDING: WORKERS’ COMPENSATION
COVERAGE FOR MEMBERS ON UNION FLIGHT RELEASES
Chair, WSIB Committee
Air Canada Component of CUPE.
MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING
AIR CANADA COMPONENT – CUPE
TIMELY AND SAFE RETURN TO WORK
To provide a fair and consistent practice for accommodating employees in this bargaining unit who have been ill, injured, or have sustained a permanent disability, and to enable their timely and safe return to work. In addition, this agreement is intended to be a supportive workplace policy and therefore will not be administered in an adversarial, demeaning or suspicious manner.
To create in the workplace a positive and supportive environment for a successful return to work of the employee. The employer will therefore provide safe, relevant, and meaningful employment for employees who have permanent or temporary work related and non-work related disabilities. The employer will return the employee to their pre-injury employment and accommodate the needs of that employee unless the employer can demonstrate that to do so would create for the employer, undo financial hardship.
1. Every injured or ill employee requiring a Return To Work plan or accommodation is considered to be a valuable integral component to the ongoing success of the employer’s enterprise and is therefore expected to be the central focus of the plan. It is understood that the returning employee will be actively involved in all aspects of the program to ensure a successful return to work.
2. The Union, acting as the bargaining agent for all employees covered under this collective agreement is recognized as an equal participant in the Return To Work plan and therefore the Union and its officers and representatives will be fully involved in all proceedings.
3. Every employee shall be re-employed at the appropriate time following an injury or illness if the employee is capable of performing the essential duties of their pre-injury or illness job or any other accommodated work.
4. Every employee participating in this program will be paid at the rate they earned at the time of their injury or illness.
5. The employer recognizes their duty to accommodate the work or workplace to the needs of the returning employee in order to facilitate a timely and safe return to the employee’s pre-injury employment or other suitable and available work that is within that employee’s functional and physical abilities.
6. If an employee’s pre-injury/illness work cannot be accommodated so that the employee can perform the essential duties of that assignment, then the employee will be offered alternative suitable and available work that is within that employee’s functional and physical abilities.
7. The employer will recognize the special needs of injured employees residing in Manitoba and Nova Scotia. These employees will be accommodated with safe, suitable, and meaningful modified duties at the Winnipeg or Halifax airport. When suitable modified duties cannot be identified at these two worksites, the employee will be granted time to heal, and will remain at his/her place of residence where s/he will continue with appropriate medical treatment until such time as travel to the crew base is deemed reasonable and medically appropriate by the employee, and his/her primary health care provider. The employee will not be required to travel to his/her crew base using personal passes in order to perform available modified work.
8. Any assignment of duties outside the bargaining unit will only be considered if all attempts at accommodating the employee have been exhausted. In such an event the employee will be offered the choice to accept employment outside the bargaining unit and in so doing, the employee will retain all rights applicable under the Collective Agreement including but not limited to seniority, transfer, and negotiated benefits (health care, insurance, and pension). Any employee exercising this provision will retain the right to return to the bargaining unit in line with accrued seniority should the employee’s medically documented functional abilities return to their pre-injury level.
9. The employer agrees that there will be no reduction in any employment benefits due to time lost from work due to sickness or injury that would be covered by the applicable provincial Workers Compensation Board including but not limited to pension credit accrual, vacation entitlement, health care benefits, and any wage progression increases.
10. It is agreed that all costs associated with the administration of the Timely and Safe Return To Work Plan, including Union participation, will be borne solely by the Company. It is further agreed that all costs associated with the implementation of a proposed accommodation will be borne solely by the Company. It is further agreed that any returning employee will not suffer any wage or other loss due to the implementation of a proposed accommodation.
11. It is understood that if no accommodation resolution can be achieved, the employee will remain on un-interrupted income maintenance until a timely and successful return to work can be arranged for the employee.
12. All employees engaged in the Timely and Safe Return To Work Plan will be given every possible opportunity to work at their own pace. An employee experiencing difficulty at his/her current level in the plan may return to a lower level of engagement until such time as he/she is medically able to progress to the next level.
13. Essential Duties are understood to be “the duties necessary to produce the job outcome” and that not all duties of the work assignment are essential duties.
14. Suitable modified work is understood to be work that the employee has the necessary skills to perform or can obtain in a reasonable time period and:
- Will not pose a health and safety risk to the employee, co-workers or others
- Is of meaningful, productive, value added nature
- Has either a vocational or medical rehabilitative component
15. Any and all accommodations implemented under this program will be for a period of time to be determined by the employee’s primary health care provider and shall not be revoked without cause and prior written notice to the Union.
16. All issues deemed by the Union to be contrary to their understanding of this plan will be subject to the grievance and arbitration procedure.
17. All accommodations must be outlined in writing and provided to all parties regardless of whether the accommodation is temporary or permanent.
18. The Timely and Safe Return To Work Plan is intended to ensure at a minimum, adherence to the applicable provincial Workers Compensation Acts, the Canada Labour Code, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
19. The Timely and Safe Return To Work Plan must undergo a regular evaluation process to include representatives from the Component WSIB Committee, and Component Occupational Health & Safety Officers. This process will ensure that the plan is administered fairly and will also implement any corrective measures deemed necessary in the design of administration of the plan. The evaluation must include worker based outcomes such as pain and/or functional status and sustainability.
The WSIB Committee will work in conjunction with the Health & Safety Committee in the evaluation and revision of the current Return To Work program. The revised “re-hab” program will then become an addendum to the MOU. The process will not include a “joint” Return To Work Committee. We believe that the only route toward achieving a plan that is safe and fair to all our members is through the collective bargaining process.
The revised program will be reduced to two phases from four. The first phase will be Ground duties and the second phase will be Air duties. This will provide maximum flexibility for the employee. The four “phases” will be eliminated. The two new phases will provide a framework within which the employee can, with the guidance of his/her primary health care practitioner, develop a personalized program that can be an integral part of an overall treatment and therapeutic recovery program.
The employee will be empowered to select from a range of suitable, available, meaningful, and safe duties in both the Ground phase and the Air phase which will be developed by the applicable Union Committee members. Progress through each phase will be monitored by the employee and his/her health care provider. The monthly provision to be assessed by the Company’s Occupational Health Department will be maintained only when safety and regulatory requirements are must be met. Measurement standards will be individually developed and applied by the employee’s personal health care provider. Through ongoing measurement and evaluation, the employee will continue the work hardening process. If setbacks occur, the individual program will be revised to a lower level of engagement under the direction of the health care provider.
When, in the opinion of the employee’s personal health care provider, the employee is ready to return to unrestricted duties, the employee will obtain medical clearance from Occupational Health and return to work.
PROPOSED LETTER OF UNDERSTANDING:
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COVERAGE FOR UNION FLIGHT RELEASES
PURPOSE: To attain clarity regarding Workers’ Compensation coverage for all CUPE
members who are on flight releases engaged in work for the union.
1. It is understood by Air Canada and the Air Canada Component of CUPE that all CUPE members who are on CUPE flight releases, whether paid for by the Company or the union, are covered under the respective Workers’ Compensation provincial Boards, and are eligible for applicable Loss of Earnings and Healthcare benefits subject to the relevant operational policies.
2. It is agreed that Air Canada is the designated employer of all CUPE members under the Air Canada Component; and, Air Canada will agree to file an employer’s report for any CUPE member who sustains a workplace injury while performing their duties for the union. There is to be no distinction between Company paid, and CUPE paid flight releases.
3. All union offices attached to the Air Canada Component of CUPE are to be considered as the designated workplace for all members of the union who sustain an injury in the course of their union duties.
4. If in the case of a workplace injury to a CUPE member engaged in work for the union, a gradual return to work is warranted; modified duties, and reduced hours will be performed at the designated union office only. Air Canada agrees to continue to pay the injured union worker for hours worked and report those earnings to the respective WCB/WSIB/CSST Board for the purpose of ensuring ongoing Loss of Earnings benefits.
- This will ensure a safe and sustainable return to work for any member who suffers a workplace injury at their union office
- This will ensure that the employer does not exploit an officer’s or representative’s skills, and/or knowledge of union activities
- This will protect our union workers at a time when they are most vulnerable