Katherine Lippel, University of Ottawa Faculty of Law, Ottawa, Canada
Objective: Highly sensitive experience rating mechanisms were integrated into the Quebec workers' compensation system in the early nineties. In most cases, costs of employment injuries are, in principle, attributed to the account of the injured worker's employer. Yet, in 2007, over 25% of compensation costs were transferred from specific employers' accounts to the general fund. Tens of thousands of appeals are filed each year with Quebec's workers' compensation final appeals tribunal, the Commission des lésions professionnelles (CLP), and the number of appeals regarding experience rating has increased considerably in the last decade. This paper aimed to describe legal rules that permit cost transfers to the general fund and to explore the effects of these provisions on the underpinnings of the workers' compensation system.
Methods: Based on classic legal methods, the researchers examined the legislation (An Act Respecting Industrial Accidents and Occupational Disease) and the CLP decisions that implement the experience rating provisions to describe the parameters of the rules applied, and to illustrate issues being litigated and outcomes of decisions regarding cost transfers from accounts of employers of injured workers to the general workers' compensation fund.
Results: Issues frequently raised in these cases were requests for cost transfers based on a worker's pre-existing handicap, on liability of third parties for the injury, or because the employer was "unduly burdened" by the claim costs.
Conclusion: In Quebec, experience rating mechanisms encourage debates on liability in a no-fault system, provide incentives to employers to screen out disabled candidates seeking employment and encourage litigation related to workers' compensation.