Manitoba increasing fines for unsafe workplaces

Manitoba has introduced changes that will increase fines and penalties for offences under the Workers Compensation Act.

A recent report released by the Manitoba Workers Compensation Board (WCB) documented frequent instances of claim suppression by employers.  These proposed amendments would broaden worker protection by increasing penalties and requiring an employer who takes discriminatory action against a worker to prove the action was unrelated to the worker making a claim, said the provincial government.

“We know from WCB research that claim suppression is happening far too often, to far too many workers,” said Labour and Immigration Minister Erna Braun. “New staff and resources are being put in place to investigate allegations of claim suppression.  This amendment will complement that work.”

The maximum penalty for employers would be increased from $7,500 to $50,000, according to the Canadian Press.

The minister noted that in addition to improved enforcement, a comprehensive review of the WCB rate model is underway, aimed at encouraging real prevention, strengthening system accountability and removing financial incentives to minimize or suppress claims.  

This review includes consultation with stakeholders, who will be asked their views on effective incentives to adopt meaningful injury prevention practices and programs.  Incenting investments in workplace safety is a key level to creating a culture of safe work in Manitoba, the minister said, adding the report is expected at the end of this year.

Manitoba’s Five-Year Plan for Workplace Injury and Illness Prevention committed to providing dedicated prevention services, Minister Braun said, adding these proposed amendments would establish a prevention committee of the WCB board of directors to oversee SAFE Work Manitoba, bringing prevention activities under one roof with a single point of contact for the public.

“Prevention services will be easier to access, more responsive and better tailored to the individual needs of each industry and workplace,” said Braun.

Braun also recently announced  new measures to support safe workplaces including a new mobile unit with new high-visibility vehicle markings for workplace health and safety officers, a new serious injury support worker position in the Worker Advisor Office, and Manitoba’s first annual leadership conference for safety and health committees.