Legal aid wanted for WCB claims
The Opposition is pushing for workers to be allowed legal aid when they appeal rulings of the Workers Compensation Board.
Liberal Carolyn Bertram says making claimants pay for their own lawyers isn't fair. She points to one case in which a claimant accumulated tens of thousands of dollars worth of legal bills appealing a ruling of the board.
"Will you bring in legislation, changes to the act, whereby legal counsel at the internal reconsideration stage will be covered by the Workers Compensation Board? Will you do that for those appellants?" Bertram asked the government in the legislature.
Community and Cultural Affairs Minister Elmer MacFadyen, who is responsible for the Workers Compensation Board, says there's nothing in legislation that allows for legal representation, and he won't be changing it.
"The workers compensation system is funded by the employers," MacFadyen replied. "There is no provision for legal fees provided to individuals who apply for workers compensation who feel they've been wronged by the system. That's why they have in place a worker advisor who will assist and work with an individual who is making the claim."
MacFadyen says Bertram's concern could be included in a future review of the Workers Compensation Act.