Yukon court strikes down lump-sum payment policy

Yukon Territory (Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal) v. Yukon Territory (Workers' Compensation Health & Safety Board), 2005 CarswellYukon 8, 2005 YKSC 5 (Y.T. S.C.)

A policy of the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board of Yukon Territory has been found invalid.

A worker was injured in a workplace incident in 1992. He had been receiving compensation for it ever since. In February 2003 he applied to receive a lump-sum payment under section 32(2) of the 1986 Workers’ Compensation Act instead of the regular payments.

Two months later the Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board moved to develop a policy dealing with lump-sum payments. An adjudicator determined the application could not be processed until the new policy had developed.

The worker appealed and lost and appealed again to the appeal tribunal. The board issued Policy CL-53 on Feb. 17, 2004. The tribunal decided to seek a determination on whether or not CL-53 is consistent with the act before it adjudicated the worker’s appeal.

One controversial aspect of the policy was approved by the Yukon Territory Supreme Court. It held that the requirement that a worker provide a legal opinion, as well as that of an investment advisor, that it is in the worker’s best interest to receive a lump sum is not so unfair as to create unnecessary hurdles for a worker applying for it.

The provision is in keeping with the objective of the act, and there was no evidence to suggest it was impossible or impractical to obtain these opinions, the court ruled.

The court rejected CL-53, however, because the board had not published notice of the draft policy so that interested members of the public could make submissions on it. This was a clear failure to comply with a mandatory requirement of the act. As such, CL-53 is not a valid policy and is not binding on the appeal committee, said the court.

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