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A significant birthday gives comfort

By Theresa Trant

My son turned 18 last month. This was a big event for him; a coming of age so to speak. He’s planning on working full time while he decides what he wants to do career-wise. That means he’ll be a young worker.

There is another important birthday this year. 100 years ago Canada developed its workers’ compensation system.


The system was developed on some key principles* that guide each province as they assist injured workers and their employers with achieving a successful return to the job.

  1. No-fault compensation: Workplace injuries are compensated regardless of fault by the worker or employer. Both waive the right to sue in exchange for fast service and support. There is no argument over responsibility or liability for an injury. Fault becomes irrelevant, and providing compensation to help achieve a successful return to work becomes the focus.
  2. Collective liability: The total cost of the compensation system is shared by all employers. All employers contribute to a common fund. Financial liability becomes their collective responsibility and there is no financial burden on tax payers.
  3. Security of payment: A fund is established by each provincial compensation board to guarantee that compensation monies will be available. Injured workers are assured of prompt compensation and future benefits that reflect their entitlement.
  4. Exclusive jurisdiction: All compensation claims are directed solely to the compensation board. The board is the decision-maker and final authority for all claims. The board is not bound by legal precedent; it has the power and authority to judge each case on its individual merits.
  5. Independent board: The governing board is both autonomous and non-political. The board is financially independent of government or any special interest group. The administration of the system is focused on the needs of its employer and worker clients, providing service with efficiency and impartiality.


I’ve worked at WCB-Alberta for 25 years. Each time I review these principles, I realize how lucky we are to have a system in place which protects both the employer and worker; a system which is committed to providing appropriate compensation and services for a safe and early return to work.

But you know, these principles are even more important to me now as I watch my son venture out into the working world. I hope he never gets injured at work. But if it should happen, I’m comforted knowing we have the workers’ compensation system of today to support him back to work.

Happy birthday workers’ compensation in Canada!


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