MEDIA RELEASE – Gaining momentum – CFLPA and other player unions meet with Alberta Labour Minister

MEDIA RELEASE

November 20, 2018

Edmonton, AB. – A group representing over 3,500 professional athletes from across Canada have now met with government representatives in both Alberta and British Columbia to outline their case in support of appropriate workers’ compensation coverage for all professional athletes working in Canada.

On Monday afternoon, the eve of the 106th Grey Cup week in Edmonton, the union group led by the Canadian Football League Players’ Association met with Alberta Minister of Labour Christina Gray. The same group, on October 29 in Victoria, B.C., held similar meetings with B.C. Minister of Labour Harry Bains and the Premier of British Columbia, John Horgan.

“I would like to thank Minister Gray and the Province of Alberta for meeting with our group and hearing our concerns yesterday,” said Brian Ramsay, Executive Director of the CFLPA. “We have now met with two provincial governments as we continue to build momentum in support of appropriate workers’ compensation coverage for all professional athletes working in Canada.”
The meeting held at the Alberta Legislature building included representatives from the Canadian Football League Players’ Association (CFLPA), the National Hockey League Players Association (NHLPA), the Professional Lacrosse Players Association (PLPA) with support from the Professional Hockey Players Association (PHPA).

Ramsay continued, “In B.C. and Alberta, and eventually other provinces, we are focused on bringing fairness, balance, and most of all, real accountability on the part of team owners in professional sports who need to demonstrate care and respect for the players who work for them. We are advancing our call for a review of a decades-old policy decision that was based on assumptions that may have once been true but are no longer an accurate assessment of the work situation facing professional athletes.”
The group of player union representatives again requested support in pursuing  appropriate coverage for pro athletes by the Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board, and demonstrated how:

  • a former policy decision, which excludes professional athletes from coverage under the Workers’ Compensation Act, has serious flaws that require immediate review.
  • the exclusion of professional athletes unfairly restricts those athletes from the standard protections available in every workplace and allows the employers of these players to sidestep their full responsibility for the care and safety of their employees.
  • failing to address gaps in coverage, the group believes that the province’s public healthcare system becomes the default source of care for many injured players.

Alberta’s Workers’ Compensation Board was formed in 1918 and was established to facilitate the Workers’ Compensation Act while helping to ensure that employers were responsible for workplace injuries. For most industries in Alberta, workers’ compensation is mandatory, except for those that employ professional athletes.

“We can’t stress enough that player safety is more than better equipment and proper training,” Ramsay concluded. “It’s also about taking care of players who are injured while on the job. Right now, too many of our members are being abandoned by their teams after an injury, and those players are forced to fend for themselves when it comes to medical care and proper rehabilitation. Even worse, by cutting injured players, team managers are making the public health care system the default provider of medical care and rehabilitation services that should be the full responsibility of the team that employed these players when the injury occurred,” said Ramsay.

A 2016 BC Supreme Court ruling, and later a Supreme Court of Canada decision involving a former CFL player precluded professional athletes who are covered by existing collective agreements from accessing the court system to find a remedy when their injuries are no longer covered by team-supplied medical care and rehabilitation.

About the CFLPA
The Canadian Football League Players’ Association (CFLPA) is the union for professional football players in the Canadian Football League (CFL). Since 1965, the Association has worked to establish fair and reasonable working conditions while protecting the rights of all CFL players. In addition to negotiating and enforcing the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the CFLPA provides a variety of member services, builds corporate and community partnerships and works diligently for the betterment of its membership. The current CBA will be in place through 2019. Find us online at cflpa.com

For more information:  Jason Langvee, CFLPA Office, j.langvee@cflpa.com, 1-800-616-6865

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