Thursday, January 8, 2009

Workers' Comp and Canadian 'Medicare' Post 1

One of the questions I am often asked is how come WorkSafeBC can expedite the treatment of workers for diagnostics and treatment such as surgeries. Like most workers’ compensation systems in Canada, the US, and Australia, WorkSafeBC is responsible for the medical costs of work-related injuries. The logic is based on the social justice principle that the cost of work-related injuries should be born by the industry that gives rise to them so that the costs would be reflected in the cost of production and not externalized to the public. In BC from 1917 until the 1940s, workers actually funded the medical aid part of the system through a cent a day levy on their paychecks. In fact, the timely access and payment of medical aid costs were part of what labour demanded in its agreement to the workers’ compensation ‘historic compromise’ in this province. When the Royal Commission on Health Services in Canada recommended universal healthcare insurance for Canada, it recommended excluding workers’ compensation from its coverage, just as Saskatchewan’s Tommy Douglas had done in establishing universal Medicare in that province. Today, the Canada Health Act CHA provides exclusion for payments made by a provincial workers’ compensation system as follows:

"insured health services" means hospital services, physician services and surgical-dental services provided to insured persons, but does not include any health services that a person is entitled to and eligible for under any other Act of Parliament or under any Act of the legislature of a province that relates to workers' or workmen’s compensation;

Since the CHA is primarily a funding agreement, this exclusion makes a lot of sense. Provinces retain authority to determine how the workers’ compensation system operate but payments made by this payer are outside the definition of insured health services so in no way violate the CHA.

No comments: