Supreme Court ruling affirms injured workers’ rights on the job

By 

Employers have a human rights obligation to reasonably accommodate injured employees after an accident, the Supreme Court has ruled in a decision that could have significant implications across the country — particularly for migrant and temporary agency workers.

The case was fought by special needs educator Alain Caron after being told by his employer there was no suitable alternative work available after an injury prevented him from returning to his previous role.

As a result, the Quebec compensation board said his rehabilitation would have to take place “elsewhere,” which for the board and Caron’s employer was the extent of their obligation under the law.

But Caron successfully argued to the Supreme Court his employer could find him a job compatible with his elbow injury — and that it had a duty to do so under Quebec human rights legislation that requires employers to reasonably accommodate disabilities.

The court’s decision could have significant implications on injured workers across Canada, setting a higher standard for the lengths employers must go to find a suitable role for injured employees after a workplace accident.

Ontario employers already have a duty under the Ontario Human Rights Code to accommodate injured workers, but Maryth Yachnin, a lawyer with the Industrial Accident Victims’ Group of Ontario, says the ruling will still have an impact.

“We expect that this is going to make a pretty significant difference in the WSIB’s day-to-day approach on return to work,” said Yachnin of Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. “It means they have to require employers to show that they attempted to meet (accommodation) obligations.”

WSIB spokesperson Christine Arnott said the Human Rights Code was already “factored into our policies and decisions.”

“We’re here to help people return to health and return to work,” she said.

While all Ontario employers have a duty to co-operate with return-to-work efforts, only workplaces with more than 20 employees have an obligation to re-employ workers after an accident. The worker must also have been continuously employed there for at least a year before their injury.

Yachnin said migrant and temp workers were most likely to benefit from a more rigorous application of the duty-to-accommodate principle, because they are often immediately terminated or repatriated after an injury.

“Migrant workers never get the protection because they are never employed for one continuous year. Temp workers, same thing” said Yachnin.

“They’ve got no realistic forum for the defence of their human rights except through WSIB,” she added.

Between 2004 and 2014, more than 780 migrant workers in Ontario were medically repatriated back to their home countries after injuries — nearly all of them against their will, according to a study for the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Hamilton’s Karl Crevar, who has been an advocate for injured workers since a workplace accident in 1987, served as an intervener in the Caron case.

“There is some movement in Ontario, but it’s far, far short. The challenges are still there,” he told the Star. “The fact is many workers who have permanent impairments are not returning to work.”

A 2015 study conducted by professors at McMaster and Trent universities looking at injured workers with permanent impairments in Ontario found that 46 per cent were living on the poverty line five years after their accident.

The WSIB does have the power to issue penalties to employers who refuse to comply with their obligations to help injured employees get back on the job. The Star requested statistics on how many times that power has been exercised, but has not yet received a response.

In its decision, the Supreme Court said the duty to accommodate did not require employers to make a “new position from scratch for a disabled worker.”

“Rather, it means that when an employer is looking at available positions, the employer is required to consider whether it has any suitable employment as defined by (workers’ compensation legislation), and also what its obligations under the Charter require with respect to flexibility in work standards.”

Crevar said when employers argue that accommodating a worker after an injury will cause “undue hardship,” the burden falls to the worker to appeal the decision — a financially and emotionally draining process.

“If some cases have to go to the Supreme Court to get a final decision, that’s outrageous,” he said.

“That takes time. And time hurts people”

Source: The Star

Ottawa rescues military disability insurance plan with $622 million bailout

By Murray Brewster, CBC News

The Liberal government is spending more than $622 million to bail out the Canadian military’s long-term disability insurance plan, newly tabled federal budget documents reveal.

The enormous infusion of cash comes almost five years after the former Conservative government settled a class-action lawsuit with disgruntled veterans who were angry that their payments were being clawed back.

Supplementary budget estimates for the current fiscal year, tabled this week in the House of Commons, show the Service Income Security Insurance Plan (SISIP) is running in deficit and the federal government is “contractually obliged” to keep it afloat.

The plan, which serves both full-time and part-time soldiers, is underfunded “due to a significantly higher number of claims, largely owing to increased awareness and recognition of post-traumatic stress disorder and mental health,” says the estimates document.

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said in a conference call Thursday the government has committed to looking after members of the military.

“We’ll continue to make the right investments,” he said.

In 2013, the Harper government paid out $887 million for a settlement with 7,500 former soldiers whose long-term disability income had faced clawbacks for over 35 years.

In an email, National Defence said the bailout was necessary to keep the Service Income Security Insurance Plan afloat in the face of “the continuing growth in the number of claims” over the past few years.

“This sum is required for the [Canadian Armed Forces] to continue to adequately fund its group disability plan,” the department said.

Veterans Affairs is also getting an extra $177 million top-up to cover a higher-than-expected number of disability claims for ex-soldiers.

The supplementary estimates document says the department is seeing an “increased number of veterans accessing programs, such as the Disability Award, and increased requirements for health services.”

‘Left out in the cold’

The news comes as veterans converge on Parliament Hill Thursday for an outdoor protest they have dubbed “left out in the cold.”

Most of their anger and frustration relates to the Liberal government’s plan to give injured veterans a choice between a lump sum compensation payment for injuries and a lifetime pension.

Critics — both in the veterans community and on the opposition benches — have said the plan falls short of what the Liberals promised in the 2015 election campaign.

Trevor Sanderson was camping overnight this week beneath the walkway connecting the East and West Memorial Buildings on Wellington Street, ahead of Thursday’s protest for better services for veterans. (Marc-André Cossette/CBC)

Afghanistan veterans who claim the system discriminates against them have vowed to carry on with a lawsuit challenging the federal government’s pension policy. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau managed to increase tensions with veterans at a town hall appearance a few weeks ago.

Asked why his government is still fighting veterans in court, Trudeau told the town hall audience that the veterans are “asking for more than we are able to give right now.”

The Conservatives plan to introduce a motion Thursday calling on Trudeau to formally “apologize to veterans for his insensitive comments.”

They’re also demanding that he live up to his campaign vow that, under his government, no ex-soldier would “be forced to fight their own government for the support and compensation they have earned.”

What’s love got to do with money?

A national survey, commissioned by Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) and Credit Canada in time for Valentine’s Day (February 14), reveals more than one third (36%) of Canadians are victims of financial infidelity.

The two non-profit organizations co-sponsored the Financial Infidelity Survey – a Leger poll that asked Canadians the following question: What is the worst form of financial infidelity you have been a victim of from a former or current partner?”

Here are some of the standout findings:

  • 34 percent of those in a relationship keep financial secrets from their current romantic partner
  • 36 percent of those in a relationship have lied about a financial matter to a partner
  • Younger adults who are not married, aged 18-54, tend to be victims of financial unfaithfulness
  • Women and men are equally likely to become victims of financial infidelity (men: 35% vs. women: 37%), keep financial secrets from their partner (men: 35% vs. women: 34%) and lie about a financial matter (36% both)

“Talking about money can be difficult for an individual, but when in a relationship, whatever issues each of them has is exacerbated,” said author, personal finance educator and FPSC’s Consumer Advocate, Kelley Keehn. “For example, 50 percent of Canadians are $200 away from not being able to pay their bills and we owe $1.71 for each dollar we bring in. That means we owe a lot more than we’d like to think about and that can lead to a great deal of stress and strain on a relationship.”

“Often individuals going into a relationship do not discuss money matters,” states Laurie Campbell, Credit Canada CEO. “It doesn’t seem romantic. As such there may be a lot you don’t know about your partner. You may not know how they handle money, their values around money, or their thoughts on credit and debt. This leaves room for miscommunication and at worst dishonesty and possibly financial abuse of their partner.”

Kelly Keehn’s 6 Step Conversation

Use the following questions and to-dos to get financially naked with your spouse and ensure you are on the same page:

  1. What are our goals?
  2. Write a needs and wants list
  3. Where are we now?
  4. How are we going to get there?
  5. Are there any changes?
  6. Develop an action plan

Also, asking open-ended questions like: What are your financial goals in the next five or 10 years? If one wants to get another degree and travel the world while one partner wants to settle down and buy a home, there’s going to be a major disconnect. Or, ask, what does money mean to you? If one says “Freedom” and the other “Security” – you can guess which one is likely the spender and which is the saver – and can guess at the friction that will cause in the future.

Laurie Campbell and Credit Canada’s Tips to Combat Financial Infidelity

Red Flags:

  • Regular cash withdrawals
  • Unaccounted purchases and expenditures that cannot be explained
  • Partner lies about purchases and expenditures, to you and/or to others
  • A change in behaviour, either in spending habits or attitudes towards you and money, in order to deflect attention away from themselves
  • Spending more, on themselves and/or others
  • A change in mail, such as regular statements or promotions from credit cards you don’t normally use, or investment firms you have never dealt with
  • Less frequent mail from your regular financial services and creditors
  • Partner is very concerned about the mail and doesn’t let you to see it first

What To Do:

  1. No surprises. Have regular discussions with your partner about money, as well as your individual assets and debts, whether in savings, chequing or credit accounts.
  2. Keep a detailed budget and spending plan. So you know exactly how much money is coming in and how much is going out (and on what).
  3. Do not sign any document without reading it first. They say love is blind, but you don’t have to be. Read everything before signing anything. If you’re not sure what something means seek the advice from a professional or expert.
  4. Maintain separate accounts. Have one joint account for all household expenses, which each partner contributes to in proportion to their respective income.
  5. Individual credit cards in your own names. Don’t run the risk of someone else ruining your good credit. Plus, two good individual credit histories are better than one joint history when you apply for a loan. And if one of you has a blemished credit record, the other’s clean record can be an asset.
  6. Speak to a certified credit counsellor. Some non-profit credit counselling agencies can do a free soft inquiry on your credit report to check for any inconsistencies. You can also see a credit counsellor as a couple for advice on managing money together and setting future goals.

The full results of the Financial Infidelity survey can be found here.

About Credit Canada
Credit Canada is a not-for-profit and charitable organization that provides free and confidential credit counselling, personal debt consolidation and resolutions, as well as preventative counselling, educational seminars, and tips and tools in the areas of budgeting, money management, and financial goal-setting. Credit Canada is Canada’s longest-standing not-for-profit credit counselling agency, helping Canadians manage their debt since 1966.  Please visit www.creditcanada.com for more information.

About Financial Planning Standards Council
A professional standards-setting and certification body working in the public interest, FPSC’s purpose is to drive value and instill confidence in financial planning. FPSC ensures those it certifies―Certified Financial Planner® and FPSC Level 1® Certificants in Financial Planning―meet appropriate standards of competence and professionalism through rigorous requirements of education, examination, experience and ethics. With FPSC’s formal partnership with the Institut québécois de planification financière (IQPF), which is the only organization authorized to certify Financial Planners in Québec, there are more than 23,500 Financial Planners in Canada who have met, and continue to meet, FPSC’s standards. More information is available at FPSC.ca and FinancialPlanningForCanadians.ca.

About the Financial Infidelity Survey
Leger conducted a survey of 1550 Canadians between Jan 2 and 5, 2018 using its online panel, LegerWeb. A probability sample of the same size would yield a margin of error of +/-2.5%, 19 times out of 20. Leger’s online panel has approximately 475,000 members nationally – with between 10,000 and 20,000 new members added each month, and has a retention rate of 90%.

SOURCE Financial Planning Standards Council

www.fpsc.ca

10 reasons to change careers in 2018

Creative Boom

If you’re back at your desk after Christmas, fed up and unhappy, glancing at the clock every two minutes, willing the day to disappear, then perhaps it’s time to consider a career change.

A new year always represents a fresh start. A chance to begin again. For those of you feeling disheartened rather than happy to be back at work, now’s the perfect opportunity to make that scary leap into the unknown.

We’re familiar with career changes at Shillington. It’s one of the top reasons why people sign up to our graphic design courses. Here, we look at the top 10 reasons to change careers and be happier doing something you love, that’s whether it’s graphic design, photography or even becoming a yoga teacher.

1. You didn’t choose your current path

Sometimes, we fall out of school, college or university and find ourselves in jobs we just didn’t want. Needs must, as they say. You always planned to leave one day and follow the career path of your dreams. But, for whatever reason, it just hasn’t happened. Consider what you love doing, look at the skills and experience you’ve gained so far, and carve out your next step to move towards a better career.

2. You’ve realised you need to be more creative

You’re stuck in a job that isn’t creative. There’s no design. No ideas generation. No writing. Nothing that feeds your appetite for creativity. You’re desperate to itch that scratch. If you think most jobs are devoid of creativity, think again. There are so many career paths that are creative – public relations, marketing, design, publishing… the world is your oyster.

3. You’ve become bored

You might be on your chosen career path, only to find yourself utterly bored. It happens to the best of us. You thought you’d love doing what was always your chosen destiny, but find yourself daydreaming about something completely different. If your current job no longer excites you. If you feel stuck and going to waste, it’s definitely time to overhaul your career.

4. You feel as though you’ve reached your limit

In your current job, it feels like there is literally nothing left to learn. The challenge is gone. You’re repeating the same lessons over and over again. You’re unfulfilled and don’t you just know it. Don’t waste another minute. Think about the things that excite you. What do you want to learn? What skill gaps do you want to address? How do you want to flex your creative muscle? A different job may address all these wants and desires, and more.

5. You’re not getting any younger

Another year has passed. That big birthday is looming. What are you waiting for? There really is no time like the present. Time waits for no man. This ain’t no dress rehearsal. Make 2018 the year that you finally realise your dream of becoming a designer, a photographer, an astronaut… whatever takes your fancy.

6. You’ve realised it’s far easier to switch careers

These days, many skills are transferable. You can easily hop from one industry to another. But if you feel as though you need to study before you make that jump, there are way more courses and learning materials at your fingertips. For example, if graphic design is your dream, we offer both full and part-time courses at our six campuses around the world, helping you to transition.

7. You’ve spotted an opportunity

Sometimes, things change. Industries die out. Money is spent elsewhere. If your current job is under threat or there’s just not as much demand as before, then you should look for more prospective paths. Look for where the excitement and opportunity lies. For instance, graphic design has never been more popular, as visual communication now spreads across a bigger network of platforms and channels.

8. You’re ready to make more money and win that promotion

Jobs can often have ceilings. You may have reached yours and find there’s nowhere to progress and make more money. If that’s the case, side-stepping into another industry may help. We all want to move up the ladder. Getting that promotion might just mean a slight diversion. And hey, you might find you end up doing something you really love.

9. Your outlook on life might have changed

Life can sometimes determine your next move. A new partner, a change in address, a holiday in the sun or turning 30 can change your perspective. You may suddenly realise that something needs to give if you’re going to be happy. What does your new career look like now that you see things differently?

10. You’re fed up and suffering from burnout

The absolute top reason why you should change careers in 2018? Burnout. Life is too short to suffer from stress and exhaustion at work. If you’re living for the weekends, but finding you spend most of Saturday and Sunday in bed to recover, don’t fret! The career of your dreams is waiting just around the corner, and all it takes is a step in the right direction – starting with an assessment of your existing skills and experience, and where you may need to fill in the gaps to secure that next job.

If you’d like to switch to a exciting career in 2018, visit www.ilscorp.com to discover more about insurance education in Canada. www.ilscorp.com

B.C. wineries see red as Alberta declares war in pipeline dispute

Excerpreted Article was written by Nick Eagland | The Province 

B.C. vintners see red after the Alberta government launched a trade war against B.C. wine in retaliation for this province’s pipeline resistance.

Tuesday, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said the agency of her government that is the provincial wholesaler of alcohol will stop buying B.C. wine.

The ban is Notley’s response to the B.C. government decision last week to try to restrict increases in bitumen shipments from Alberta until more studies are conducted on how spills of oilsands bitumen can be cleaned up.

Notley said Alberta imports about 7.2 million bottles of B.C. wine worth $70 million each year.

It is the latest blow in the fight between the two NDP governments over the $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which was approved in 2016 by the federal government. It would triple capacity on the 1,150-km line running from Edmonton to Burnaby.

“We will not let the government of B.C. hold Alberta’s and Canada’s economy hostage, and jeopardize the economic security of hundreds of thousands of working families across this province and across this country,” Notley told a news conference at the Alberta legislature.

To scrap the pipeline would cost the Alberta economy $1.5 billion a year, Notley said. She said her province is willing to risk $5 million in fines for violating the New West Partnership Trade Agreement among the western provinces by the trade action.

“The wine industry is very important to B.C. Not nearly as important as the energy industry is to Alberta and Canada, but important nonetheless,” said Notley.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley announces that Alberta will boycott all wine from B.C. Larry Wong / PNG
“I’m also encouraging all Albertans: Next time you’re thinking about ordering a glass of wine, think of our energy workers. Think of your neighbours. Think of our community. Think about our province, and maybe choose some terrific Alberta craft beer instead.”

B.C. Premier John Horgan shot back Tuesday, warning Notley to back off. He said in a statement that his government has every right to consult British Columbians on measures meant to protect B.C. lands and waters from a potential spill of diluted bitumen.

“If Alberta disagrees, they can make that argument in the proper venue, in our court system,” Horgan said.

“Our consultation on proposed new regulations hasn’t even begun, but Alberta has seen fit to take measures to impact B.C. businesses. I urge Alberta to step back from this threatening position. We stand with B.C. wine producers and will respond to the unfair trade actions announced today.”

The new B.C. Opposition leader, Andrew Wilkinson, slammed both the Alberta government for its wine ban and the B.C. NDP government for provoking the move with pipeline actions that he said will likely lose in court.

“The wine sector is going to be the innocent victim of a petty dispute between two NDP governments,” the Liberal leader said.

B.C. to introduce auto insurance pay out limits in 2019 to save $1B annually

By Dirk Meissner

THE CANADIAN PRESS

VICTORIA _ Allowing people to sue for pain and suffering in car accidents has been viewed as a fundamental principle in British Columbia, but that changed Tuesday when the government joined Canada’s other provinces in limiting payouts to some crash victims because of a financial crisis at the public insurance corporation.

Attorney General David Eby said a payment cap of $5,500 for pain and suffering on minor injury claims is a necessary component of the NDP government’s plan to bring back financial stability to the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, which faces a projected net loss of $1.3 billion this year.

The changes will save up to $1 billion annually, Eby estimated.

Eby would not comment directly on the possibility of further premium hikes this year after an increase of 6.5 per cent last year.

“It’s going to take some time to turn around the problems with ICBC,” Eby said at a news conference. “I acknowledge there is no silver bullet that will solve things immediately in terms of a problem that’s been building for years, unaddressed.”

Eby said the limit on minor injury claims would not take effect until April 2019 as part of legislation to be introduced by the government.

Without the NDP’s plan, Eby said drivers could face average increases in their premiums of $400 or more a year.

The cost of minor injury claims is placing the largest strain on insurance rates, Eby said, with payouts hitting a record $2.7 billion in 2016, an increase of 80 per cent since 2009. Eby said payouts for minor injury claims have increased by 265 per cent since 2000.

“B.C. is the last province in Canada to take this kind of action,” said Eby.

He said the legislation will propose a definition for minor injury that would include sprains, strains, mild whiplash, cuts, bruises and anxiety and stress after a crash. It will not include broken bones and brain injuries, including concussions, or other more serious impairments.

Eby said the average claim for minor injuries is just over $30,000, with pain and suffering payouts averaging $16,500.

A new tribunal will be introduced by April 1, 2019, to resolve injury claim disputes within 60 and 90 days, he said. The current time for an average legal claim handled through the corporation is 30 months.

He said the government will double the medical care and recovery cost allowance available to accident victims to $300,000, regardless of fault. Eby said the change, which is the first increase in 25 years, is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2018.

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said Eby’s proposals do not lower premiums for drivers or improve compensation for accident victims.

“The option is, of course, to have a wholesale re-examination of ICBC,” he said. “It’s time to re-examine the whole thing.”

The corporation is a state-run model created 44 years ago by the NDP, Wilkinson said.

Eby said he will announce a program to review insurance rates based on driver records within weeks. He did not say when motorists can expect changes.

“The system is disconnected from driver behaviour,” he said. “We want to fix that. We want to reconnect driver behaviour with the rates they pay.”

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