nl-cornect-tony-20070508

PC cabinet minister Tony Cornect said that while the government does not have plans to change the provincial legislation to match the federal rules, reviews are ongoing. ((CBC))

The minister who oversees workplace safety in Newfoundland and Labrador is reacting to a recent statement from the RNCA asking for full compensation for injured police officers.

Tony Cornect, the minister responsible for the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission, said the current legislation balances the needs of workers with financial realities.

"There are many recommendations to see increased benefits to injured workers," he said. "We must carefully weigh these recommendations against the cost and the current financial sustainability of the system."

In an interview with CBC's Peter Cowan, Cornect said the province's policy regarding injured police officers was on par with the rest of the country.

"There is no province in Canada which provides a wage-loss benefit of 100 per cent of pre-injury net earnings exclusive to police officers," he said.

"There are six jurisdictions which allow 100 per cent coverage to all injured workers, and those provinces are Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Saskatchewan."

Comparing with the RCMP

When CBC News asked why RCMP officers in Newfoundland and Labrador are given 100 per cent compensation when injured and RNC officers are not, Cornect was initially unable to come up with an answer.

The minister asked if he could call back later once he had more information on the issue.

In a follow-up call, Cornect said the discrepancy in the amounts of compensation had to do with differences in federal and provincial policy.

"The RCMP are federal employees so they would fall under the federal guidelines, and the RNC — the provincial police force — would fall under provincial guidelines," he said.

He said while the government does not have plans to change the provincial legislation to match the federal rules, reviews are still ongoing.

"We've done a statutory review, so we're looking at the content of that review right now," he said.

Cornect said the steering committee held consultations and a thorough review of the workers compensation system.

He said the recommendations from those meetings are now being turned into action.

"All this information is now being considered as we work hard to develop an action plan," he said.

"That work now is very much active, and we hope to release the action plan in the very near future. It's a work in progress."

A need for sustainability

Cornect insists that the current compensation rules regarding police officers balance sustainable funding with the interests of those who are injured and not working.

"There are many groups in the province who work in dangerous situations like firefighters, correctional officers, first responders," he said. "We have worked with the RNC over the years for training, which has resulted in a strong, well trained police force"

"Our main goal here is to make sure the plan is sustainable for all injured workers"

With files from Peter Cowan