In 1910, Sir William Meredith was appointed to a royal commission to study workers’ compensation. His final report, known as the Meredith report was produced in 1913.
The Meredith report outlined a trade-off in which workers relinquish their right to sue their employers over a workplace injury in exchange for compensation benefits.
There were five basic cornerstones to the original workers’ compensation laws; cornerstones which have survived across Canada, to a greater or lesser extent, as follows:
- No-fault compensation: Workplace injuries are compensated regardless of fault. The worker and employer waive the right to sue. There is no argument over responsibility or liability for an injury. Fault becomes irrelevant, and providing compensation becomes the focus.
- Collective liability: the total cost of the compensation system is shared by all employers. All employers contribute to a common fund. Financial liability becomes their collective responsibility.
- Security of payment: a fund is established to guarantee that compensation monies will be available. Injured workers are assured of prompt compensation and future benefits.
- Exclusive jurisdiction: all compensation claims are directed solely to the compensation board. The board is the decision-maker and final authority for all claims. The board is not bound by legal precedent; it has the power and authority to judge each case on its individual merits.
- Independent board: the governing board is both autonomous and non-political. The board is financially independent of government or any special interest group. The administration of the system is focused on the needs of its employer and worker clients, providing service with efficiency and impartiality.
In keeping with these Meredith Principles, the WCB’s strategic plan is a direction-setting document that will guide and inform our planning from 2016 through to 2020. The plan describes broad strategies and actions over this five-year period to ensure we are directing and aligning our efforts and resources toward the important goals that we have established.
In so doing, the strategic plan is an evolution and builds on significant progress the WCB has made over the past number of years and confirms our continuing focus on preventing workplace injury and helping injured workers return to work in a safe and timely manner. Reaching our goals will involve continued emphasis on creating and strengthening key partnerships and ongoing collaboration and engagement with workplaces across the province using a variety of approaches.
A key element of this plan is a significant investment in modernizing the WCB, with a particular focus on enhancing technology. With the passage of time, the WCB is no longer meeting service expectations of employers and workers with regards to online accessibility and external connectivity. Keeping abreast of the speed of technological change will be an ongoing challenge as we develop services that workers and employers want and need.