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Most injury claims are handled smoothly and quickly, the panel said. When they aren’t, it’s a boondoggle. “Indeed, the biggest failing of the system right now is not the level of benefits it provides, but how its overall decision-making impacts the lives and livelihoods of workers and employers,” the panellists said. Reforms to the system are long overdue, said Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan. He was disappointed that the panel said it lacked the time or expertise to make recommendations about how the board sets premium rates for employers. At an average of $1.02 per $100 on the payroll, Alberta’s rates are the lowest in the country. “The result is that we have an overly bureaucratic system that all too often denies injured Albertans the help and support they need,” McGowan said. McGowan also wanted the panel to address allegations some employers discourage workers from filing injury claims to avoid having their premiums increase. The panel recommended an independent study on rate setting, and an examination of whether rate policies improve workplace safety. The panel also recommended improving or expanding some worker benefits, which would cost employers about six cents more per $100 paid to workers. A proposed rate increase is disappointing to Alberta Chambers of Commerce president and CEO Ken Kobly.

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