The Northwest Territories and Nunavut Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission is proposing eliminating lifetime pensions and replacing them with a new system that includes earnings loss and retirement benefits.

Currently, the North is the only jurisdiction in Canada with a workers’ compensation system that provides pensions for life, according to a review carried out by the WSCC in 2014.

Under the proposed system, workers would receive a one-time lump sum called a non-economic loss payment based on their permanent medical impairment, which could be reassessed if the impairment becomes worse. In addition, workers would receive a long-term earning loss benefit, which would be paid to those who’ve come as far as they can go in their recovery and still aren’t able to work or to regain their earning capacity. The amount for each individual would be calculated based on the difference between what they made before and after the injury. 

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These benefits would continue until the injured worker’s earning is the same or more than it was before the injury or until the worker is eligible for an old-age security pension — currently age 65. Workers would also be entitled to a retirement benefit to help with loss of retirement income when their long-term earnings loss benefit ends.

According to the WSCC, the target date for introducing the new system will be dependent on the approval of legislative amendments in both the NWT and Nunavut legislatures. “We anticipate that process to take between one and three years, so 2022 at the earliest,” wrote a spokesperson for the WSCC in an email to Benefits Canada.

While the proposed changes were open to public consultation in August and September, the WSCC will continue to receive additional comments via email until Oct. 13.

“All feedback is welcome and will be carefully considered as part of the decision-making process to ensure pension benefits for injured workers and their dependants are equitable and reflect current needs and good practice,” noted the spokesperson.

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Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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