Last month, University of Regina researchers published a report on work fatality and injury rates in Canada.
The reports looks at fatalities and injuries between 2010 and 2020 for each of the provinces and territories and is based on data from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada. I thought I’d go through it to see how Alberta fared compared to the other provinces.
Keep in mind that, according to the researchers, “Taking into account under-reporting and other factors (e.g., work-related commuting related fatalities, stress-related suicides), . . . the annual total number of work-related fatalities in Canada is likely 10 times higher than reported by the AWCBC.”
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As well, given that this data is based on workers compensation claims, any workplace not covered by compensation board insurance probably isn’t included in the data.
First, here’s a look at WCB coverage of workplaces in each province in 2020.
Alberta is roughly in the middle of the pack, being among the half of the provinces that had coverage rates under 90%.
Now, let’s looks at lost-time injuries, or injuries that resulted in workers missing out on work.
Here, Alberta has the fourth-largest number of lost-time injuries. That doesn’t surprise me. Alberta has the fourth-largest population in general, so I’d expect it to be in fourth place.
Same goes for occupational disease-related deaths.
Where it starts to look worse for Alberta is for injury-related fatalities.
Despite having the fourth largest population in the country, Alberta had the second highest number of injury-related workplace deaths in 2020. And even then, it had only 1 fewer death than Ontario, which was in the top spot.
When we look the rate of injury-related fatalities per 100,000 workers, Alberta has the second highest 5-year average among all the provinces. Saskatchewan had the highest rate.
The average is between 2016 and 2020 and inclusive of both years.
Now that being said, Alberta’s rate per 100,000 workers is dropping.
Take a look at this table, which compares the average rate between 2017 and 2019 with the 2020 rate.
|2020 rate||% change|
Alberta had the third largest decline in injury-related workplace deaths among all provinces.
However, it’s the flipside when we look at the occupational disease fatality rate.
|2020 rate||% change|
Alberta saw the fourth largest increase in rate of occupational disease fatalities per 100,000 workers. Going from 4.2 per 100,000 workers to 4.7 bumped them from the fourth highest rate to the third highest rate.
And it’s even worse for the lost-time injury rate per 100,000 workers.
|2020 rate||% change|
Here, we see that Alberta is in 5th place regarding how many workers lost work time due to injury, relative to the number of workers in the workforce.
However, their 3-year average for the prior to 2020 had put them in 8th place, and they had the largest increase in their lost-time injury rate of all the provinces, at 14%. Québec and Ontario were in second and third place, with 5% and 1%, respectively.
Now let’s look at the numbers for the last 10 years.
This graph is specifically for Alberta.
In it, we see that during the first two years of the UCP government, the rate of workers dying because of occupational disease has increased, going from 4.0 workers per 100,000 in 2018 to 4.7 in 2020, a 17.5% increase. This the highest the rate has been since 2013, when it hit 4.8.
It also increased under the NDP, but declined slightly right at the end. Even with that slight drop, however, occupational disease deaths still were higher at the end of the NDP’s term than at the start of it.
We also see that under the NDP, the rate of workers dying from injury increased dramatically, going from a low of 2.9 workers per 100,000 to a high of 4.5 in 2018. That’s a 55.2% increase, and the highest rate over the entire 10-year period.
In fact, that rate has decreased under the UCP, dropping slightly during their first year then a further 11.4% in their second.
Work-related injuries increased during the last half of the NDP’s first term, rising from 1.25 per 100 in 2016 to 1.47 in 2018, a 17.6%. It continued to increase under the UCP’s first two years, but the rate of increase was slower, rising by 12.9%.