Atlantic Canada addressing return to work

New program aims to keep people connected to their workplace following an injury

Atlantic Canadians injured on the job tend to take longer to return to work than those living in most other provinces. To further assist workers as they recover from workplace injury, Atlantic Canada’s workers’ compensation organizations have teamed up to launch a region-wide program, Working to Well. 

The goal of the shared initiative of WCB Nova Scotia, WorkplaceNL, WorkSafeNB and the Workers Compensation Board of PEI is to keep people connected to their workplace, whenever possible, following an injury.

“We understand how important work is to a person’s physical and psychological well-being. That’s why we are so committed to helping workers who are injured maintain a workplace connection and safely return to wellness and work,” said Tim Petersen, WorkSafeNB’s acting president and CEO.

Each year, workers in the Atlantic Provinces lose a combined total of millions of days due to workplace injury. In Nova Scotia, more than 770,000 work days are lost due to workplace injury per year. Although the number of time-loss injuries has declined in recent years, the average length of those claims has increased, said WCB Nova Scotia. At 115 days, the average claim duration in Nova Scotia is longer than in any other Canadian province.

While New Brunswick’s lost-time workplace injury frequency continues to remain lower than the Canadian average, the volume of case-managed claims and their duration increased last year.

Working to Well aims to reduce both the human and financial impact of workplace injury. At its core are four powerful stories of Atlantic Canadians who overcame challenging and life-changing workplace injuries. Custodian Jeff Wilcox hurt his back working at the St. John’s Citadel in Newfoundland; registered nurse Denise Cann suffered a serious shoulder strain while moving a patient at Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Nova Scotia; mechanic Robert Gunn broke all four limbs while working on a tire reassembly service call near Charlottetown; and Fredericton carpenter Darren Shaw suffered serious injuries to his arm during a drywall installation. All four workers were able to make a successful return to work.

“A workplace injury or illness can have a significant physical, emotional and financial toll on a worker and on their families, employers and communities,” said Dennis Hogan, CEO of WorkplaceNL. “Following a workplace injury, it takes the support of the injured worker’s employer, health-care provider, family and (the workers’ compensation board) to help most injured workers return to sustainable employment.”