June 4, 2008
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The Government of New Brunswick has received the report conducted by an independent review panel that analyzed the workplace health, safety and compensation system.
Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour Minister Ed Doherty tabled the report, Strengthening the System, today in the legislative assembly. The panel looked into the governance, prevention of injuries, coverage and benefits, claims process/health-care delivery, appeals tribunal and financial performance of the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC).
"I want to thank the three panel members, Louis Comeau, Robert Breen and James LeMesurier, for their contributions and for carefully considering viewpoints from individuals and stakeholder organizations," Doherty said. "This comprehensive process follows a pledge in the Charter for Change to review the system independently for the first time in nearly 25 years, along with the practices of other provinces and jurisdictions."
Doherty said that the panel's report is well-balanced, transparent, and clearly identifies where there is a consensus on issues and where there are differences. While the panel identified areas for improvement, Doherty said that the report underlined that New Brunswick's rate of workplace injuries is second lowest in Canada, and that compensation and benefits compare favourably to those offered in other provinces.
"The vast majority of the 64 recommendations fall within the purview of the WHSCC," Doherty said. "The panel stressed that any changes must be balanced against the need to keep the system on solid financial footing so that it will be sustainable. I anticipate that once the WHSCC has conducted its due diligence, the board of directors will bring recommendations regarding legislative amendments forward for government's consideration."
Roberta Dugas, chair of the WHSCC, congratulated Doherty on the quality of his panel selection, and applauded the panel on its expertise.
"The report will be very useful to the commission as it sets its priorities for the coming years," Dugas said. "The board of directors is pleased with the emphasis on health and safety, and especially prevention, an area where we have been focusing our efforts. We appreciate that the panel has reinforced that the WHSCC should be devoting more resources to injury prevention, actions we are committed to undertaking."
Highlights from the panel's 64 recommendations are:
"The panel's recommendations, such as those relating to the governance of the WHSCC and its independence from government, and increased provincial funding for non-assessed employees, will all require the consideration of government as we move forward," Doherty said. "We can all agree that it is essential that we work together so that New Brunswickers can be engaged in safe work practices."
For additional information or to review the report, visit http://www.gnb.ca/0105/StrengtheningtheSystem.pdf.
MEDIA CONTACT: Andrew Holland, Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, 506-453-2568.