July 28, 2020 (OTTAWA, ON) – As the number of health care workers infected with COVID-19 continues to climb, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions is calling on Canada’s premiers to urgently implement legislation granting them fast access to workers’ compensation benefits, without having to prove their illness was contracted on the job. The leaders of eight provincial nurses’ unions have written to their respective premier and labour minister, urging them to pass presumptive legislation, which would guarantee rapid access to benefits for all health care workers who file workplace injury claims due to COVID-19.
“Frontline health workers are at much higher risk of getting COVID-19 as a direct result of their work,” said Linda Silas, President of the CFNU. “Nurses are calling on Canada’s premiers to urgently adopt legislation ensuring no health care worker who suffers as a result of COVID-19 is denied, or receives delayed access to, compensation benefits. We also voice our support for coverage to extend to all essential workers, as has been called for by federations of labour across the country.”
The BC government recently became the first in Canada to add a presumption for a communicable viral pathogen into their Workers Compensation Act, meaning any worker who contracts COVID-19 where “there is a risk of exposure to a source or sources of infection significantly greater than that of the public at large” will receive swift coverage without having to go through an adjudication process.
According to Statistics Canada, health care workers are severely overrepresented among COVID-19 cases, making up more than 21.5 per cent of all cases. Recent reports reveal that about 13,000 health workers across the country have filed workplace injury claims due to COVID-19, the majority of all claims related to the virus.
Presumptive legislation exists for many occupations where workers are at heightened risk of a particular condition or injury. It accepts workers’ claims without requiring evidence they result from workplace exposure, ensuring faster access to compensation benefits like income replacement. Without such legislation, workers are forced into a typically lengthy process that can delay or outright deny the worker access to benefits.
“We still don’t know the long-term health impacts of COVID-19, impacts that will be felt by thousands of health workers as a result of their service to our communities,” said Silas. “Health workers deserve much more than applause from Canada’s premiers, they deserve to receive the support they need without delay.”
The CFNU is Canada’s largest nurses’ organization, representing nearly 200,000 nurses and student nurses, and advocating on key health priorities and federal engagement in public health care.
For more information, please contact:
Ben René, firstname.lastname@example.org, 613-406-5962