HALIFAX – The province is protecting the Workers Compensation Board benefits for coal miners who have worked 20 years or more at Nova Scotia's coal mines. Labour and Advanced Education Minister Marilyn More introduced legislation today, Nov. 27, to maintain the benefits after a recent Workers Compensation Appeals Tribunal decision to change the process for workers receiving permanent impairment benefits.
The proposed legislation would ensure the process is unchanged for miners who spent 20 years or more at the face of a mine.
"We appreciate the contributions this province's long-serving coal miners have made to our communities," said Ms. More. "Legislation has been in place for over 30 years to protect coal miners who spent most of, if not their entire, careers in an unhealthy, challenging and difficult environment. This legislation will restore the original intent of the act to ensure these disadvantaged coal miners have their benefits protected."
Section 35 of the Workers Compensation Act, put in place in 1981, provides benefits for coal miners who worked at a mine face for at least 20 years, and who have lung impairment caused by extended exposure to unhealthy coal mining environments. The Cape Breton Injured Workers Association and the United Mine Workers have been consulted and both support the new legislation.
"We are very pleased to see government is taking a strong stance to protect this province's life-long coal miners whose health has been impacted do to their long-standing, committed work in Nova Scotia's mines," said Bob Burchell, United Mine Workers. "This group of miners deserves compensation, and we are pleased to see that the appeal decision will not affect this aging group."
The Workers Compensation Appeals Tribunal ruled if a worker receiving a permanent impairment benefit has a change in health, the benefit will be reduced.