Edmonton

CFL players ask Alberta government for help in bid for better insurance

The CFL players' association has asked the Alberta government to help get better insurance coverage for its members.

'A player injured in the last regular season game can be without a paycheque indefinitely'

Eskimos linebacker J.C. Sherritt is one of the team's three union player representatives. (CBC)

The CFL players' association has asked the Alberta government to help get better insurance coverage for its members.

The association recently submitted a detailed brief to a panel established by the province to review the workers' compensation policies and regulations.

"Professional football players are no different than every working Canadian; they work hard for their employer and deserve to be included in the standards and protections that apply to anyone injured on the job," Brian Ramsay, executive director of the CFLPA, said in a statement on the union's website.

In most cases, CFL players who are injured during the season have one year to recover. After that year, if the injuries are not healed, rehabilitation is no longer covered by the team.

"There is no insurance scheme to cover those injuries past that one-year window, nor is there salary protection for a following season," Ramsay said. "This means that a player injured in the last regular season game can be without a paycheque indefinitely."

Many injured players fall back on the public health-care system, which leaves Canadian taxpayers with the bill, Ramsay said.

Linebacker has suffered several injuries

Several Edmonton Eskimos players said they've seen the memo sent out by their association asking for better insurance.

Linebacker J.C. Sherritt, one of the team's three union player representatives, said he suffered several injuries during his five-year career but medical coverage hasn't been an issue for him. But that isn't the case for all players, he said, especially those who suffer long-term injuries.

"We've seen, especially with the head injuries that are developing, not all injuries go away in a year," Sherritt said. "There's are a lot of things that we can get better at and improve on, and I think that's what we're trying to address here."

Eskimos quarterback Mike Reilly's career has been hampered by injuries since he joined the team. In 2014, he broke his foot late in the season and needed intensive rehabilitation.

"Fortunately for me, I was in a position where I could heal and be ready to play my best football for the next season. So that didn't really affect me. But again, I've been fortunate enough to not have to deal with that. There are a lot of guys that do have to deal with that."

Ramsay hopes the Alberta review panel will bring politicians together to come up with "workable solutions" that acknowledge the responsibility team owners have to their players.

"This is all about what's fair, and we're confident that when policy makers understand the problem faced by our members, they will support our call for better standards and greater responsibility by CFL teams when it comes to player safety."

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