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Alberta government launches review of Workers’ Compensation Board

File: Alberta legislature. Shallima Maharaj, Global News

EDMONTON – The Alberta government has issued a formal review of province’s Workers’ Compensation Board.

A three-member panel will look at the board’s governance, effectiveness, principles of compensation and policies.

It’s been 15 years since the last formal review was conducted on the WCB.

“Albertans deserve a system that works for them when they need it. This review will help ensure that the Workers’ Compensation Board provides fair compensation and meaningful rehabilitation in a way that is sustainable and affordable,” Minister of Labour Christina Gray said.

The chair of the panel will be Mia Norrie who is a human resources and labour relations consultant. John Carpenter, a partner with Chivers Carpenter law firm, and Pemme Cunliffe, in-house counsel with Covenant Health, round out the board.

“The committee has extensive experience representing workers and employers through Alberta’s workers’ compensation process,” Norrie said.

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“We will reach out to Albertans to ensure we have thorough understanding of different perspectives. This will be beneficial as we work through the myriad of complex issues.”

The review will include discussions with injured workers, employers and labour unions, the government said.

The Alberta Federation of Labour said the review is long overdue.

“The Workers’ Compensation Board was designed to get workers back to work healthy and whole. Because of outdated legislation it has too often been unable to fulfill this role,” AFL secretary treasurer Soibhan Vipond said.

Last week, Finance Minister Joe Ceci said the government will axe or combine at least 25 agencies, boards and commissions, saving $35 million over the next three years.

READ MORE: Review of boards shows Alberta can save $35M

Ceci wouldn’t say which boards he was referring to. He said details would be released in or around the 2016-17 budget on April 14.

The decision comes after a review of 136 boards, comprising many of the heavy hitters like Alberta Health Services, which has a $14-billion a year budget.

It is the first of a three-stage review of all 301 agencies, boards and commission across the provincial government.

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READ MORE: Alberta government to review all agencies, boards and commissions

The government introduced new legislation in December to expand what’s commonly called the sunshine list. Bill 5 requires public disclosure of the salaries of all government agency employees who earn more than $125,000 a year.

The first such report is scheduled to be online on June 30.

The WCB panel is exepcted to provide a final report to the government in spring 2017.