In the last two years, we have had numerous questions from our Ontario-based Trucking clients regarding the Interjurisdictional Agreement (IJA) between WSIB and most other Workers Compensation agencies across Canada. Similarly, these questions lead to more questions on the counterpart Alternate Assessment Procedure. The common trigger for these questions has been a work place injury involving an employee truck driver or an owner operator (independent operator) truck driver outside their common Province of residence (ie. outside of Ontario).Typically, the injured worker receives treatment at a medical facility/hospital and the hospital then submits an initial claim report to the Provincial workers compensation agency. Once the claim form is received, the compensation board will conduct an audit to match the claim to a specific employer. In this scenario, if the employer is not registered with that particular board (the jurisdiction where the injury occurred), the employer will ultimately receive a request-for-premium from the respective Provincial board.
This headache can be avoided with two steps, the first step being an understanding of the IJA, and its implications for Canadian Motor Carriers and the second being a simple application submitted to WSIB.
What is the Interjurisdictional Agreement?
The original purpose of the IJA was to provide the injured worker the option of selecting the jurisdiction they wish to claim benefits from. For example, Ontario resident worker is injured while working in Alberta (temporarily). In this situation, the injured worker (under the IJA) has the choice of electing to claim from either WCB Alberta (jurisdiction where the workplace injury occurred) or WSIB (jurisdiction based on residency). Further, the IJA was also enacted to reduce the possibility of paying duplicate premium on a specific worker’s earnings.
Although the second option was well-intentioned, it failed to recognize the transient nature of the Canadian trucking industry. In many cases, Canadian truck drivers may reside in one province but regularly pass through other provinces on a weekly, or even a daily basis (which is more likely). This proved to be an accounting nightmare for Canadian motor carriers. This brings us to the Alternative Assessment Procedure for the IJA.
What is Alternative Assessment Procedure (AAP)?
The Alternate Assessment Procedure for interjurisdictional trucking was created to reduce the complexity for Canadian trucking companies who employ workers that travel throughout Canada. Under this Alternative process, those employers who under the IJA have the option of simply reporting ALL the earnings of their workers who reside in Ontario to WSIB, instead of reporting earnings prorated by the mile to the various Provincial Workers Compensation Boards – a much simpler process.
Independent Operators and the IJA
Since Independent Operators (who haven’t purchased Optional WSIB Coverage) are not covered by the WSIB in Ontario, similarly they would not be covered by ANY other provincial workers compensation agency in the event of any injury in another jurisdiction. This is why it is very important that trucking companies who contract with independent operators ensure that:
- Suitable Private WSIB Alternative coverage is maintained by the independent operator;
- The independent operator is aware that if he or she attends a medical clinic or hospital (due to a work-related injury) that he or she is to inform all medical staff that he or she is covered under private coverage, is self-employed (as opposed to being employed by the carrier who subcontracts them) and will not be submitting a provincial workers compensation claim.
- The independent operator also needs to provide the medical staff with his or her NAL account number and the phone number for NAL so that private coverage can be verified. Otherwise medical professionals may be obligated to report the information to the governing provincial compensation board.
When medical staff ask “is this a work related injury?” they are generally wanting to know if they have to meet their legal obligation to report medical treatment received by an employee. Many do not understand the difference between an employee and a subcontractor, so it is important to clarify that they do not need to report the injury.
It is important that all carriers keep their drivers apprised and reminded of their related obligations, particularly with regards to the different injury reporting procedures required for employee drivers and independent operators. For example, employee drivers should immediately call dispatch to report an injury, but independent operators should be required to call NAL as well as dispatch, so that both NAL and the carrier have the opportunity to issue reminders, monitor and manage claims/injuries. This will also help to mitigate costs and lost time.
- Contact the WSIB to determine if you have applied for the AAP. If yes, no need for any further action. If not, click the following link to begin the application process: AAP Application – WSIB
Applications for Alternative Assessment are due by February 28, 2014 to be effective for January 1, 2014.
- Once approved by WSIB, ensure you are reporting your workers’ earnings in compliance with the AAP.
- Regularly remind your independent operators and employee drivers of their injury reporting obligations under this arrangement.
About the Authors
Cézanne Charlebois is the Managing Partner and practice leader of Charlebois Associates, a well-known and respected London based WSIB/WCB Law Firm, and employer advocate. Cézanne has successfully represented her clients (including many NAL clients) with respect to WSIB claims management, assessment and experience-rating appeals.
Chris Henry is a Partner, Vice President & General Manager of NAL Insurance, the leading provider of WSIB/WCB alternative insurance solutions in Canada.
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