October 29, 2018
CFL Players’ Association and player unions meet with BC Premier and Labour Minister
There’s a better way to protect and care for professional athletes in Canada
Victoria, B.C. – A group representing over 3,500 professional athletes from across Canada were in Victoria, B.C. today to meet with B.C. Minister of Labour, Harry Bains, and the Premier of British Columbia, John Horgan.
Led by representatives from the Canadian Football League Players’ Association (CFLPA), alongside representatives from the Professional Lacrosse Players’ Association (PLPA), Professional Hockey Players’ Association (PHPA) and the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), the group outlined their case in support of appropriate workers’ compensation coverage for all professional athletes working in Canada.
“I would like to thank both Minister Bains and Premier Horgan for meeting with our group today,” said Brian Ramsay, Executive Director of the CFLPA. “We have now taken the first steps in 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.”
Ramsay continued, “Here in B.C., and eventually through similar efforts in other provinces, we hope to achieve an outcome that brings 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.”
During the meetings, player union representatives requested support in pursuing appropriate coverage for pro athletes by WorkSafeBC, and demonstrated how:
- A 1994 policy decision of the Workers’ Compensation Board of B.C., 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.
Workers’ compensation laws in British Columbia were first enacted in 1917 and were established in part to help ensure that employers were responsible for workplace injuries. Most people who work in B.C., except for professional athletes, qualify for workers’ compensation.
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.
“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,” stressed Ramsay.
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.
For more information: Jason Langvee, CFLPA Office, 1-800-616-6865