How injured and ill workers receive expedited care

Canada's workers' compensation boards (WCBs) pay for health care for injured and ill workers separately from provincial health insurance plans, in a parallel system. The WCBs' strategies to improve health care for workers have implications for physicians, patients, government and provinces' public insurance plans.

These strategies and implications are described in a new paper by researchers from McMaster University and the Institute for Work & Health.

An abstract of the paper is below. The full version is available in the journal HealthcarePapers, along with seven commentaries by experts from WorksafeBC, the University of Montreal, the Ontario Medical Association, the University of Toronto and other organizations. A companion paper appears in the journal Healthcare Policy. In this paper, the researchers describe how they conducted their study and present their key observations.

For further information, please email Dr. Cameron Mustard.

Parallel Payers and Preferred Access: How Canada's Workers' Compensation Boards Expedite Care for Injured and Ill Workers

Canada's workers' compensation boards (WCBs) finance health care for injured and ill workers in parallel with provincial health insurance plans. Parallel systems of health care finance can create preferred access for some. WCBs have in recent years pursued a number of strategies to expedite or improve the quality of care for injured or ill workers, including in-house provision in WCB-owned facilities; contracting with private, for-profit clinics; contracting with publicly funded hospitals and clinics for use of facilities "off-hours"; and supporting specialized clinics within publicly funded hospitals. Many of these strategies incorporate incentive payments to physicians and facilities for treating WCB cases more quickly than patients covered by provincial plans. In this paper we document the development of these strategies and discuss their implications for physicians, patients, government and the provincial public insurance plans.

Publication Information



Hurley L, Pasic D, Lavis J, Culyer AJ, Mustard C, Gnam W


HealthcarePapers, 2008: vol. 8, no. 3, pp. 6-14.