Remembering Owen Woodhouse

Last week New Zealand paid tribute to Sir Owen Woodhouse (d. April 15, 2014, aged 97) . A decorated World War II hero, former Supreme Court and Court of Appeal judge, his 1967 Royal Commission report laid the foundation for the reform of NZ’s workers compensation system and creation of its accident compensation scheme. Like Meredith, his review provided a comprehensive vision that was based on guiding principles (“community responsibility”, “comprehensive entitlement”, “complete rehabilitation”, “real compensation” and “administrative efficiency”)

A 2002 symposium looked back at NZ’s compensation system, its evolution and the contribution of Woodhouse. His opening speech and others’ analyses can be read here  (Victoria University of Wellington Law Review, v.34, no.2, 2003)

His words from a 1996 speech ring true still:

“Our social responsibilities are not to be tested by clever equations of the latest economic dogma. They depend upon decent fellow feeling and the ideas and ideals that support it.”

Manitoba strategy on claims suppression

Manitoba’s WCB is promising action following their release of a research report on claims suppression prepared by Prism Economics & Analysis (author of a recent report on the same topic for the Ontario’s workers’ compensation board)

It will be interesting to see if these changes meet the recommendations made by the Manitoba Federation of Labour, who also addressed claims suppression in a 2010 report and their 2013 submission to the Petrie review.

For commentary on the new WCB report, see Bob Barnetson’s blog here.

Bancroft Workshop April 14-15 : from discussion to action

Jeffrey Hilgert

Jeffrey Hilgert, keynote speaker

Join us at the Bancroft Institute Research to Action Workshop in Toronto April 14-15. Topic: Has the WCB/WSIB Abandoned its Mandate? [download Flyer for full details]

Keynote speaker on Monday night will be Professor Jeffrey Hilgert, whose human rights analysis of workers’ compensation issues aroused great interest at the recent Meredith 100th anniversary “No half measures” Conference.

On Tuesday presenters and workshop participants will continue the discussion in light of concerns over current Board practices in claims adjudication, experience rating and surveillance. This will be an opportunity to consider the question increasingly being asked by injured workers: can the WSIB approve its draft benefits policies if they are not consistent with the Meredith principles?

Monday: April 14, 6:30 – 8:30 pm Emmanuel College, University of Toronto, Rm EM302, 75 Queen’s Park Crescent
Tuesday: April 15, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Friends House, 60 Lowther Avenue, Toronto

Registration Required – RSVP to
The registration fee is $125 for the waged, $65 for students and free for the unwaged (tokens also provided for the unwaged).

Please avoid wearing scents or fragrances when attending the workshop.