Manitoba's government is extending workers compensation coverage to about 30,000 more employees in the province, a move the board expects to benefit both employers and employees.

About 7,500 employers with 30,000 workers will be added when coverage is extended on Jan., 1, 2009, to more than 30 industries, provincial officials said Wednesday.

"It's really an advantage for the employees, because it means they're going to have good, solid workplace coverage in place," said WCB president Doug Sexsmith.

"If they're injured on the job, then they're going to have insurance to cover their costs."

The coverage is also good for employers, because it provides immunity from lawsuits by workers injured on the job, Sexsmith said, adding the coverage includes wage replacement, health-care treatments and rehabilitation services.

"It also levels the playing field," he said. "It includes them in all of the initiatives that we undertake around prevention. So it is a very good deal for everybody involved."

Farms now included, except family members

One of the industries now included in WCB coverage is farming and related services, although not everyone on the farm is included.

"If you're a family farm and your worker is a family member, you're not mandatory. It's voluntary," said Ian Wishart, president of Keystone Agricultural Producers.

Producers represented by the group have mixed feelings about the coverage, Wishart said. Some say it's about time, while other worry it will add to their expenses.

"The initial rate is about 1.6, 1.8 per cent. So it's not huge, but it is a cost," he said.

"Some, to be quite honest, welcome it and say, 'Yeah, we probably should be doing this.' Others are saying, you know, 'Heck, another cost I have to do, and more paperwork.'"

He said KAP is now working with the minister of labour to come up with a farm-safety strategy to help reduce the number of injuries on farms.

Other industries that will now be included in compulsory WCB coverage include:

  • Advertising, marketing, brokers, sales agents and call centres.
  • Auctions and appraisals, flea markets, mail-order sales.
  • Audiovisual and multimedia production, gaming.
  • Graphic design, interior design or decorating, drafting.
  • Camps and fitness or spa facilities.
  • Car or truck rentals, driving schools, freight shipping, rental services.
  • Greenhouses, beekeeping, hatcheries, livestock markets.
  • Laboratories, research facilities, schools (except teachers).
  • Museums and galleries, photography.
  • Political parties (including constituency offices), unions and labour organizations.
  • Social services.
  • Vermin extermination, veterinary services.
  • Cemeteries.