The Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (“WCAT”) was established under Bill 83 amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Act and came into existence on April 1, 2000. A special Task Force played an important role in the amendment process. It recommended that the final level of appeal on compensation claims be heard by an appeal body independent of the Board so that the governance and appellate (adjudicative functions) are separate. The Task Force said, "if the Board continues to have the dual role of adjudicating final claims of appeal and of ensuring that the compensation system remains financially solvent, concerns about conflict of interest, real or perceived, will never be effectively addressed. Separation of the two roles is the only way to make sure that concerns respecting bias are eliminated."
The tribunal is a quasi-judicial body authorized to hear final level appeals from both workers and employers on compensation claim matters. Unlike its predecessor, the “Board appeal panel”, the tribunal is independent from the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board. There are six part-time members on the tribunal: a neutral chair and alternate chair, two members representative of employers and two members representative of workers. The Minister responsible for the Act recommends the appointment of tribunal members to Cabinet after consultation with employers, workers, and their representative organizations. The costs of the tribunal are paid out of the compensation fund.
The Workers’ Compensation Act, S.Y. 2008 has as one of its objectives that the appeals procedure be simple, fair, accessible, with minimal delays [section 1(e)]. The work of the tribunal must meet these objectives. In addition, the tribunal’s goals are to:
- ensure that workers, dependents of deceased workers and employers are treated with compassion, respect, and fairness;
- set down appeals for hearing as soon as possible and with adequate time for the parties and appeal committees to be adequately prepared;
- write good quality decisions in a timely manner; and
- ensure that tribunal members have adequate training for hearing and deciding workers’ compensation appeals.
The tribunal has a small office at 456 Range Road, a fully accessible building with excellent hearing facilities. The office is staffed by a full-time appeals officer.