Regina, SK. – The CFL Players' Association (CFLPA) alongside a group representing thousands of Canadian professional athletes have now met with government officials in Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan to outline their case in support of appropriate workers’ compensation coverage for all professional athletes working in Canada.
On Wednesday morning, the union group led by the Canadian Football League Players’ Association, met with Saskatchewan Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Don Morgan, Q.C., the province's Minister of Parks, Culture and Sport Gene Makowsky as well as Peter Federko, Chief Executive Officer of the Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board. Makowsky was part of the CFLPA membership from 1995- 2011 and is a former CFLPA all-star.
“On behalf of our group, I would like to thank Ministers Morgan and Makowsky, Mr. Federko, as well as the province of Saskatchewan, for meeting with us on this important matter today.” said Brian Ramsay, Executive Director of the CFLPA. “We have now had incredibly positive meetings with officials in three provinces about the workplace health & safety inequity professional athletes in Canada face as they relate to workers' compensation.”
The meeting was held at the Saskatchewan Legislature building and included representatives from the CFLPA.
Ramsay continued, "Support for this issue is gaining momentum across Canada thanks to the work of our group. We continue to gain broad support from our provincial visits, as well as from all provincial labour federations and other non-sports labour organizations across Canada. We are seeking fairness, balance, and real accountability on the part of team owners in professional sports and we are making considerable progress in achieving these things."
The group of player union representatives called on Saskatchewan’s Minister responsible for Labour Relations and Workplace Safety to support the players’ efforts to have the current exclusion of professional athletes from workers’ compensation coverage reviewed. “The current exclusion policy is based on a number of assumptions that may have been valid decades ago when they were drafted, but are no longer relevant or applicable,” stressed Ramsay. “For example, a 2016 court decision effectively prevents our members from using the court system to resolve the costs of their playing injuries, leaving many injured athletes to fend for themselves when it comes to medical care and rehabilitation,” Ramsay noted. “Moreover, our members have to do what no other worker has to do and that’s negotiate health and safety protections with the employer; that’s unfair and needs to change,” Ramsay added.
The group of player representatives also made the case that the current exclusion has direct consequences for other public programs. “When injured players are not able to get medical care and rehabilitation from their team, they are then forced to rely on the public health care system. That means taxpayers are footing the bill that is the responsibility of the professional sports team."
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.