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Saskatchewan WCB has received 232 COVID-19 claims from employees since start of pandemic

Health-care professionals have filed more than 30 per cent of all COVID-19 WCB claims since the start of the pandemic, but most of them have been denied. Slavo Kutas / Global News

The Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) is reporting that it has only received 232 claims from employees looking to compensate lost wages because of COVID-19.

The WCB said as of Nov. 20, it has only granted 71 of those claims, while 12 are pending.

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The remaining disallowed claims come from cases where employees filed while still waiting for test results or were dismissed because the WCB determined the person contracted the disease outside of the workplace.

“So for a time-loss claim, we would pay their income lost at 90 per cent of their net earnings as well as medical costs,” said assistant director of claims support and adjudication Yvonne Weisgerber.

Health-care workers make up about 32 per cent of all claims.

Read more: Coronavirus taking its toll on Saskatchewan’s health care system, workers

Weisgerber added most of the health care claims have been denied because of negative test results.

The WCB said even if a case has an unknown exposure, its investigation can generally determine if the virus was contracted in the workplace.

“We do look at the nature of the work and whether it’s more likely than not that the exposure could’ve occurred in the workplace. We’ve been pretty successful in knowing and finding out where the exposure points have come from,” Weisgerber told Global News.

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour is concerned the figure of claims is so small given the list of business exposures and rising provincial case counts.

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“I think that there’s a lot of workers out there that have been exposed and are testing positive to COVID-19 that aren’t being reported to WCB,” said president Lori Johb.

Read more: Anxiety in Saskatchewan’s retail, service industry workers rising with coronavirus cases

The Saskatchewan Federation of Labour said based on conversations with employees, some workplaces are not treating COVID-19 as a serious occupational health and safety concern, noting those measures should be strongly enforced.

She said anyone concerned about getting sick at work should speak with management or the company about health protocols and workers compensation claims.

“Even if your employer is saying no, you really really have to protect yourself and fill out that form,” she added saying some don’t want WCB claims made.

The WCB anticipates employee claims will increase as cases rise.

It noted no claim has been filed from someone dying as a result of COVID-19 complications.

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