Labor group asks WCB to provide more details on work-related fatalities in Prince Edward Island



According to the latest annual report from the PEI Workers’ Compensation Board, two work-related deaths in Prince Edward Island in 2020 triggered compensation payments.

But nowhere in the report will you find details of how these workers died, what industries employed them, or what follow-up, if any, took place to try to prevent similar deaths in the future.

PEI Federation of Labor president Carl Pursey says the federation has long been pushing the province to publish more information on workplace fatalities.

“They’re telling us… it’s confidential information, and you can’t have any information about it,” Pursey said of the response his group has received from the province in the past.

“It’s just not fair… we need to know what happened so that we can try to make workplaces safer, so that we can prevent accidents at work.”

Contacted by CBC News, the Workers’ Compensation Board provided minimal information on deaths in 2020, saying only that they were the result of “latent occupational disease” and that no workplace investigation has been carried out. took place.

The memorial to Prince Edward Island workers injured or killed in the line of duty is on Richmond Street in downtown Charlottetown. (Kerry Campbell / CBC)

Beyond that, CAT said it could “not provide additional identifiable information on individual cases because the number is so small and we need to protect the privacy of our clients and their families.”

The council also clarified that the figure only represents deaths that triggered a payout, and that more workplace deaths could have occurred in 2020 without triggering payouts.

Workplaces must notify the province

Under the PEI Occupational Health and Safety Act, which is administered by the council, employers are required to notify the province within 24 hours of any workplace accident “in which a worker is seriously injured in a way that causes or may cause death, suffers loss of limb, loss of consciousness, significant loss of blood, fracture, amputation of a leg, arm or hand or a foot, burn of a large part of the body, or loss of sight in one eye.

A commission of inquiry may be created to recommend corrective action, but the results of any investigation are considered confidential under the law.

CBC News has contacted the provincial office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner to ask if WCB or any other government entity could be allowed to release details of workplace fatalities in an effort to improve public safety.

“It is an interesting question but it raises complex issues,” replied a spokesperson for the Commissioner. “We did not look at it or formulate an opinion.”

Different levels of detail elsewhere

Other provinces are more willing to provide information on workplace fatalities.

  • Alberta publishes workplace investigation reports.
  • British Columbia, Quebec and New Brunswick have searchable online databases that include a brief description of the circumstances that led to the injury or death of a worker, along with the date, type of work that he carried out and his industry.
  • Several other provinces list individual incident summaries in annual reports.

The PEI Workers’ Compensation Board told CBC New that it uses information from case files to issue bulletins and alerts in an effort to prevent future accidents and illnesses.

“These types of resources are important because they explain how an injury or death occurred and how future accidents can be avoided,” a spokesperson for the board said in an email.

Crown request

Pursey said he only heard of a work-related death in Prince Edward Island in 2020 after the worker’s widow contacted him, asking him to lay a wreath at the name of her husband on the annual National Day of Mourning to commemorate those killed or injured on the job.

When this is not made public, someone else could die from the same injury on the job, if no one knows what happened.– Carl Pursey

“When it’s not made public, someone else could die from the same injury on the job, if no one knows what happened,” Pursey said.

“We have to make them all public so that we know what happened [and] where it happened, and a proper investigation needs to be done to see what really caused it. “

Pursey said he plans to raise the issue at a meeting with Prince Edward Island Economic Growth Minister Matthew MacKay scheduled for the fall.

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