As the number of health care workers infected with COVID-19 continues to climb, the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions is calling on Canada’s premiers to urgently implement legislation granting them fast access to workers’ compensation benefits, without having to prove their illness was contracted on the job. The leaders of eight provincial nurses’ unions have today written to their respective premier and labour minister urging them to pass presumptive legislation, which would guarantee rapid access to benefits for all health care workers who file workplace injury claims due to COVID-19.
According to Statistics Canada, health care workers are severely overrepresented among COVID-19 cases, making up more than 21 per cent of all cases. Recent reports reveal that about 13,000 health workers across the country have filed workplace injury claims due to COVID-19, the majority of all claims related to the virus.
Presumptive legislation exists for many occupations where workers are at heightened risk of a particular condition or injury. It accepts workers’ claims without requiring evidence they result from workplace exposure, ensuring faster access to compensation benefits like income replacement. Without such legislation, workers are forced into a typically lengthy process that can delay or outright deny the worker access to benefits.