A Roche COVID-19 rapid antigen test being handed out to symptomatic Yukoners at the Takhini Arena on Jan. 19. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)

Yukoners may be eligible for PCR testing if they contracted COVID-19 at work: WCB

Contact the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board.

The Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board is encouraging Yukoners who believe they have contracted COVID-19 at work to gather evidence and make a claim, regardless of whether they qualify for a PCR test or not.

“From our perspective, we’ve been working with [the Department of Health and Social] to find a solution on this issue, because we know this issue. So what we are saying is that if you suspect your contracted COVID-19, in the workplace, you are to acquire rapid antigen tests,” said WCB spokesperson James Price.

“If you receive a positive rapid antigen test result, we are asking folks if it’s a work-related issue, to then contact our office,” he said.

Only Yukoners who are showing symptoms of COVID-19 can obtain a test right now. Yukoners can pick up one rapid antigen test kit per symptomatic person in their household from 7:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. on weekdays at the Takhini Arena drive-thru in Whitehorse.

Price said if a person receives a positive rapid antigen test result they should contact WCB at 867-667-5645 or toll-free at 1-800-661-0443 or arrange for PCR testing.

PCR testing is now limited to specific vulnerable populations, but Price said exceptions will be made by the office for people who may need the test as evidence for a workplace claim.

“From our perspective, if you ever feel there’s been an incident where you have been potentially injured through the actions in your workplace, we always recommend that you call us and you make a claim,” said Price. “No matter what, our claims are always dealt with on a case-by-case manner.”

Price said he couldn’t provide info on how many COVID-19-related claims have been filed in the territory.

He recommended people who feel they contracted the virus at work collect as much evidence as possible – including the circumstances around the positive case and all dates and times.

The board provides coverage to people who are injured in the workplace. That includes people who contract COVID-19, when “there is a causal connection between the conditions of the work required to be performed and the resulting injury.”

The WCB website notes that the causal connection might be easier to argue for a frontline healthcare worker, but it may also mean coverage is provided to a grocery store clerk or cafeteria worker who inadvertently comes into contact with an infected person.

Workers’ compensation can provide financial relief for time missed from work as well as the costs associated with recovering from an injury. In addition to the short-term effects of missed days of work, there have also been cases where persistent symptoms of “long COVID” have prevented Canadians from returning to their jobs.

The FAQ on the WCB website notes that the decision to remain unvaccinated may affect workers’ compensation benefits.

Contact Haley Ritchie at haley.ritchie@yukon-news.com