WCB’s lump sum policy amended

Following a public consultation, the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board has amended its lump sum and advances policy.

Following a public consultation, the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board has amended its lump sum and advances policy.

It affects about 30 workers who were injured before 1993.

The changes ensure the policy does not apply to applications received before March 29, 2005, and that it now provides workers who receive lump sums with annuities at age 65.

The public consultation ended March 24.

The board reviewed all the recommendations it received, and implemented some of the suggestions.

“After reviewing the submissions, we did not implement all of the recommendations we received,” board chair Craig Tuton said in a release.

“In light of the recent Yukon Supreme Court decision, we have concluded the conditions in the policy are supported by the objectives of the Workers’ Compensation Act.

“We believe the conditions are reasonable and balance the needs and interests of workers with our fiduciary responsibility to the compensation fund.”

Last year, an appeal tribunal took the board to court, asking it to nullify the board-enacted policy forcing the 30 workers to take their compensations month by month.

The court decision, dated January 2005, deemed the board’s policy legitimate, but invalid, because the board did not follow its own rules in enacting it.

Injured workers have a right to ask for, but not an unfettered right to receive, a lump-sum payment, Supreme Court Justice Ron Veale said in his written decision.

“It is my view that once the worker has made a written request for a lump-sum payment, the board must exercise its discretion under the policy existing at the time of request,” said Veale.

“To rule otherwise permits the board to delay a decision indefinitely without having the express power to do so and to change the rules of the game that apply to the worker applying for a lump-sum payment.”

However, the board’s conditions are “designed to ensure the worker has the ability to manage a lump sum as the worker cannot go back to the board if the lump sum is mismanaged or lost. The latter outcome would surely be a disaster for both the worker and the board,” said Veale.

Until 1992, injured workers who qualified for compensation could apply for lump-sum payouts.

The following year, the board amended its legislation, but several disabled workers were grandfathered under the old rules.

If they had stable, independent sources of income, if they had a specific purpose for the money, if they were in reasonable health, and if they had sought financial counseling, they could ask to be paid out.

“These advances will be made only in circumstances where it can be determined that the claimant’s long-term financial security will not be compromised,” says a board policy statement.

The board has received applications from 11 workers since 1999, four of whom applied after the consultations started.

So far, four workers have received lump sums.

Although the compensation packages vary, some are in the neighbourhood of $500,000.

Injured workers who think they might qualify for a lump-sum payout are encouraged to contact the board.

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