News Release Archive


Injured workers in Cape Breton will receive better, more
consistent service with changes in the Workers' Advisers Program
and the establishment of an office in Sydney, Labour Minister
Manning MacDonald announced today.

The Workers' Advisers Program provides free assistance, advice
and representation to eligible injured workers seeking
compensation through an appeal under the Workers' Compensation

"We are changing the program to make it more responsive to all
Nova Scotians from Clark's Harbour to Cape Breton," said the
minister. "The program has about 1,400 clients in Cape Breton. 
The best way to support them is with a regional office."

The program, originally called the Workers' Counsellor Program,
delivers the bulk of its services by contracting private law
firms to handle cases. There is also a group of six in-house

In February, 1996, the new Workers' Compensation Act laid out a
plan to change both the name and structure of the program. The
main change involves providing all services in-house by February,
1998. As a result, virtually all new cases on the mainland have
been assigned to in-house advisers, and approximately 20 per cent
of existing cases have been transferred from private firms.

"The advisers will be experts in workers' compensation issues and
appeals," said the minister. "They will be able to focus all of
their attention on the needs of the injured workers who are their

The program is now initiating the Cape Breton phase of the
transition. Part of the plan involves setting up a satellite
office in Sydney in addition to the head office in Halifax.

"The changes won't happen over night," said Mr. MacDonald. "The
program is undergoing a period of transition. We want to make
sure that people are informed about the changes and have a chance
to adjust."

Regulations have been approved to provide for orderly, consistent
transition of files from law firms to in-house advisers. Chief
Worker Adviser Anne Clark has met with law firms who provide
service and will be advising them of a timetable for transferring
files between now and Feb. 1, 1998. Communications to clients is
also planned.

The program currently handles more than 6,000 clients, using both
in-house and private advisers. The average cost per client per
year is now $275. The Halifax experience has shown that with
in-house advisers the average cost per client is about $142.

Regulations, establishing some basic criteria for representing
workers, have also been approved. To be considered for
representation, prospective clients must have a reasonable chance
of success, have a reasonable chance of recovering benefits of at
least $500, and be willing to cooperate with their adviser. These
criteria are similar to those laid out under the Legal Aid Act.

"We want to make sure that there are some standards in place so
everyone is treated fairly, while providing enough flexibility to
address different preferences and circumstances," said Ms. Clark.

Other changes in legislation have opened the door to hiring
non-lawyers, such as paralegals, to handle cases.

Competitions are currently underway for the hiring of one staff
lawyer, two non-lawyers and two administrative staff in Sydney.
The office is expected to be up and running by late spring.
Additional program staff will be hired as the transition

Anyone with questions about program changes can call
1-800-774-4712 (toll-free in Nova Scotia).


Contact: Anne Clark         902-424-3663 or 1-800-774-4712

         Jennifer MacIsaac  902-424-4680 or 902-424-3219

         Labour Minister Manning MacDonald  902-539-6032

trp                     Dec. 20, 1996 - 3 p.m.