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COVID-19 claims to WCB to follow policy on occupational disease

Finance Minister Scott Fielding has echoed the WCB’s assurance employers the current WCB policy relating to coverage of occupational diseases will be applied to any claims arising from workers who may fall ill with COVID-19.

Fielding, also responsible for WCB, sent a letter this week to the Manitoba Employers Council, reiterating a message in an earlier letter from WCB President Winston Maharaj. Both were responding to a Council request for clarity on the issue.

In keeping with the current policy, the minister said “workers who contract COVID-19 arising out of and in the course of their employment will be covered” after filing a claim and adjudication through WCB.

The Council sought clarity after some information posted was vague as it relates to the occupational disease policy coverage. Occupational disease is considered that which results from the environment of specific workplaces and responsibilities of specific workers.

 COVID-19 infection is a risk for many front-line health care workers because of their specific responsibilities. A construction worker, however, is more likely to contract COVID-19 through community transmission.

Fielding noted, however, the “WCB will adjudicate all claims in order to establish work-related causes.”

A letter in late March from Maharaj stressed that “COVID-19 is not generally going to be compensable given the extensive community transmission that we are now seeing throughout the world.”

To read the letters click here.