Thursday, January 8, 2009

Workers' Comp and Canadian 'Medicare' Post 2

One of the key features of the Canadian healthcare system is that it is essentially a single payer system. Insured health services must only be paid by the provincial health plan. Payments by others are not allowed and can result in penalties in the form of decreased transfers to the province where such payments are permitted. As a consequence, firms outside the scope of coverage of workers’ compensation are not permitted to pay for insured health services for their employees (as long as those employees are insured persons under the CHA). As pointed out by the recent Committee of Review report in Saskatchewan, this creates a situation where taxpayers are subsidizing the cost of work-related injuries for those industries and occupations not within the scope of coverage of workers’ compensation. For provinces such as BC where more than 93% of the employed labour force is covered by workers’ compensation, such subsidies are rare and limited primarily to sole proprietors, partners and independent operators.
Given BC’s high coverage ratio, the operational consequence of the legal framework means those with work-related injuries are provided the health services they need without the taxpayer having to bear the cost of subsidizing the industries that gave rise to them

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