A shared service journey

We are committed to a shared vision of care, recovery and return to work that puts workers at the centre of their recovery and employers at the centre of guiding a safe, successful return to work. 

We engage workers and employers in defining a shared vision of care

Our customers have a right to be engaged throughout the life of a claim and participate in key decisions along the way. When workers, employers and WCB work together, success comes naturally.

No one knows that better than Rick Gauvreau, claims manager with Chandos Construction, and construction foreman, Matt Ramsay. When Matt suffered a brain injury at work, he and Rick walked the long road to recovery together.

Rick takes his employer role seriously. “Employers sometimes leave their claims for WCB to manage. I don’t think that way. I can’t. I’m just as responsible for Matt’s recovery and quality of life,” he explains. “At the end of the day, employers need to engage, be part of the process and ensure good communication throughout the claim.”

His worker, Matt, appreciates Rick’s involvement. “I can’t explain how grateful I am to have Rick in my corner. Knowing he supports me makes me want to work even harder to get better.”

“The effort they each put in made a big difference,” says their case manager, Lee Lynch. “The collaborative conversations between Matt, Rick and I are amongst the best I’ve had. It’s clear they trusted each other, and they had trust in me, too. We were a dream team.”

Result

Collaborative care planning made a positive impact during a challenging year. Worker satisfaction with their involvement in their return-to-work plan increased to 78.9% and employer satisfaction grew to 84.8%—our highest satisfaction rates ever.

We connect with our customers

We’re committed to finding new ways to meet our customers where they are and use their feedback to guide us.

Results

In December we helped employers take control of their account through Canada’s first workers’ compensation mobile app for employers. Employers can check coverage, request a clearance, make premium payments, check account balances and contact us—right from their smart phone.


We are committed to consulting with stakeholders on key policy changes that impact them. After extensive consultation, our Board of Directors approved employer account policy changes that take effect January 1, 2021.

We also began early conversations with key stakeholder groups about proposed policy changes resulting from Bill 47. The consultation continued in the first quarter of 2021, with feedback welcomed from all Albertans.

The decisions we make affect people’s lives—and we’re listening

We do our best to make sure decisions are fair, transparent and clearly communicated. We also understand there will be times when we don’t agree. At every stage of a claim, we’re here to listen to questions, explore concerns and reexamine our decisions to ensure we get them right.

If a worker or employer doesn’t agree with a decision, the first step is to speak with the decision maker and explain their point of view. Often, we can resolve concerns before moving through a formal appeal process. A supervisor or manager may participate in these discussions, too. If the claim owner is unable to alter their decision or identify an alternative solution, there are more formal options.

The Dispute Resolution and Decision Review Body (DRDRB) is the next step. Using a process that is flexible, collaborative and focused on resolving issues, the DRDRB helps workers and employers navigate the appeal process, addresses concerns and evaluates decision accuracy. Our alternate dispute resolution service brings multiple parties together to discuss complex decisions, reach consensus and increase understanding.

Finally, the external Appeals Commission is available to workers and employers who disagree with a decision made by the DRDRB and want to appeal it. Appeals Commission decisions are final and binding on all parties.

 

The changing nature of work

New technologies. Evolving industries. Fluctuating labour markets. Alberta’s workplace is constantly changing. It’s important we understand the changing nature of work so the system can prepare and respond—helping injured Albertans get back to work, when it’s safe for them to do so.

We help workers find a fresh start

Most workers can return to their pre-injury career after they recover; others may need help planning for a new career in a brand-new industry.

We’re working to expand partnerships and access the hidden job market in new sectors. We also continue to build on existing and highly successful partnerships with the trucking, heavy construction and road-building industries. Those partnerships are paying off—Fae Campbell knows that firsthand.

Fae’s opportunity started a year ago, when Westcan Bulk Transport’s Dan Columbus began working with WCB’s Training-on-the-Job (TOJ) program. Westcan was looking for experienced candidates who knew the transportation industry—candidates like Fae. She could no longer drive a truck, but she had a lot to offer.

“WCB hand-picked motivated people for us to talk to. It was a very successful recruitment and selection process,” says Dan. Fae’s now a part of Westcan’s Central Learning Centre, supporting and mentoring the company’s drivers and safety advisors.

Results

Despite the economic challenges we all faced in 2020, partnerships led to great success. Together we created more TOJ opportunities for permanently injured workers. By year’s end, we helped 159 workers secure new opportunities, exceeding our target of 145.


Our re-employment services teams did great work to guide workers and case managers through the re-employment process, developing personalized plans for workers who could not return to their pre-injury employment. We helped 71% (298/421) of impacted workers find two viable job leads, falling short of our 95% target set in early 2020, before COVID-19 impacted the job market. We continue to explore opportunities in growing industries while the economy recovers mid- and post-pandemic.

We help severely injured workers connect with their community

Some workers may no longer be able to work, but we can still help them achieve independence and improved quality of life in meaningful ways.

In 2020 we developed a community reintegration program for severely injured workers—those with life-changing injuries that impact their functional and physical needs. The program connects these workers to community agencies and organizations that enhance quality of life, celebrate diversity and promote community inclusion.

Michael Pinder, our new community reintegration program coordinator, sees the impact of this program every day.

“The value of community interaction and involvement is incredible, perhaps now more than ever. A lot of workers find comfort knowing we’re here to support them in ways that serve all their social and creative needs, beyond the financial and medical benefits they already receive. No two solutions are the same and each reintegration plan is as unique as the worker it serves,” he explains.

“With COVID, we haven’t had the opportunity yet to see the full impact of this program, but there are exciting opportunities on the horizon as in-person services and activities begin to open up.”

Result

Our community reintegration pilot program launched in October 2020 and was supporting seven severely injured workers by year’s end.

 

The changing nature of claims

Partnering with stakeholders, experts and health care partners, we are working to address the growing instance of psychological injuries and increase understanding about the causes of workplace injuries.

We help our partners and stakeholders better understand, manage and prevent workplace psychological injury

We can work together to lessen the impact of workplace psychological injury through awareness and prevention programs. Together we can achieve successful return-to-work outcomes for workers with psychological injuries.

Results

In 2020 we delivered new tools for employers to support their investment in a psychologically healthy workplace. A working partnership with the Industry Task Force Association led to development of guides for supporting employees during critical incidents, explaining how we make entitlement decisions on psychological injury claims and developing supportive return-to-work plans.


We helped 794 employers access the University of Fredericton’s Psychological Health & Safety Certification Program at discounted rates. Through our own psychological injuries in the workplace seminar, a further 394 employers learned how they can support a safe and timely return to work for a worker who is recovering from a psychological injury.


Our HeadsUp social media campaign engaged young workers, their parents and their employers in a discussion about mental health, resilience and workplace psychological injury prevention.

Across our three social media channels (Instagram, Twitter and Facebook) we created 134 posts, generating 1.2 million impressions. We also established new partnerships with the Canadian Mental Health Association (Alberta Division) and SafeGen.

We aim to provide early intervention and timely psychological support for workers

Accessing appropriate and timely supports is an essential part of a strong recovery and return-to-work plan. We watch for early indicators to help us identify workers at risk of developing secondary psychological conditions so we can connect them with earlier care and improve their return-to-work success.

Result

Our goal was to deliver faster interventions for workers with secondary psychological injury. In early 2020 we increased our provider network and streamlined our referral process to make it faster and easier for workers to access the services they need, when they need them.

On average, we connected workers with psychological care services within 86 days. Our goal was 78 days. The pandemic shutdown and removal of many modified work opportunities resulted in some workers reaching out for further psychological support later in the life of their claim. 

We examine the cause and effect of injuries 

Community physicians play a critical role in providing objective medical evidence that helps us determine if an injury is work related. We’re focused on educating doctors about the claim management process to increase understanding and transparency about how causation is determined.

Result

We enhanced our physician engagement strategy and medical community outreach program. In October we rolled out the injury causation initiative to the physician community.

We invite community physicians to participate in the ongoing evaluation of new medical research to support our growing, shared understanding of occupational injury and disease.

 

Technology and innovation

In 2020 we made significant strides to update our technology platform. This positions us to further modernize our workplace in ways that make it easier for stakeholders to connect with us and collaborate along the path of recovery and return to work.

We use technology to streamline processes and provide quick service on more straightforward claims

Not every injured worker needs the full suite of case management services and programs to recover and return to work. Some workers’ paths are relatively straightforward, while others face a longer road to recovery. Automation can streamline how we assign claims and aid our decision making in low-complexity cases. By automating administrative tasks, we create more time for the valuable services that impact our customers—more time for conversation, collaboration and customer care.

Machine learning helps us match workers who have a high probability of return-to-work success with our claims processing team for quick service. This helps us match those needing additional support with a skilled and dedicated claim owner.

“Machine learning is an exciting way to look at our data, understand it and predict outcomes from it. It will help us to create more tailored supports for our customers earlier in their recovery, so they have a greater chance of healing and returning to work,” explains Erik Soderstrom, director of Business Analysis, Intelligence and Support.

Results

We set out to develop and implement a new model to predict return-to-work risk factors and further evolve our claim assignment model. Combined, these models help us direct complex claims to specialized care teams faster. The pilot kicked off in August; we continue to assess results.


We implemented our first machine learning model in July, automating 15–18% of low-complexity tasks that would normally go to an employee for processing. Phase two of the model continues, with an aim to predict lost-time claims; this phase will allow our claims administration team to handle a higher volume of straightforward claims.

We simplify complex information

We serve more than 160,000 employers and over 1.7 million workers. Each new customer interaction is an opportunity for us to learn and improve.

We can use data visualization to convey broad information concisely, gain better insights about our clients’ experience, and design improved services to match their needs for better outcomes.

Result

New management reports help us identify workers who are fit for work so we can provide timely support to help them and their employers coordinate a safe return to work.

We’re testing an internal version of this fit-for-work dashboard with the goal to make it available to employers in the future. Once available, it would allow employers to see their claim progress in real time and help them proactively plan for their workers’ safe return to work. 

We enable our staff through mobile technology

Through portable productivity and collaboration technology, we’re working to create a mobilized workforce that has the tools and information they need on hand, anywhere and at any time. This paves the way for increased productivity and new opportunities to work together.

“In 2020, our Business Technology Services division moved mountains,” says Tarick Ahmad, WCB’s chief technology officer. “In a year like no other, we enabled smart and nimble business operations and continue to evolve our business technology service line.”

Richard Bedford and his Workplace Support team were fundamental to this success. “We began the year as a brick-and-mortar organization with limited remote-access capabilities. Within a few short weeks, our team developed solutions that allowed most staff to work from the safety of home.”

“This is just the start,” says Richard. “We’re continually working to improve the way our staff connect—ensuring they have reliable access to the tools they need to support workers and employers.”

Result

We worked hard to deploy innovative technology solutions across WCB. New productivity tools and mobile technology enable our staff to securely connect, collaborate and better assist our customers and stakeholders wherever that support is needed.