Challenges with Return to Work Encountered by Out-of-Province Workers After an Occupational Injury

Student Researcher:
Zahra Nikakhtari

Supervisor / Principle Investigator:
Nicola Cherry

Additional Authors:
Whitney Haynes

MD Class of 2021


Introduction: We recently showed that out-of-province workers injured in Alberta have longer time off work than Albertans who make an Alberta Workers’ Compensation Board (AB WCB) claim for a time loss injury. Our objective here was to see whether the provisions to help with return to work differed between those from Atlantic Provinces and Albertans. To study this, we explored workers’ perception of barriers and facilitators in regaining employment.

Hypothesis: We hypothesized that support for out-of-province workers to regain employment was less effective than for Albertan workers because of the difficulty of obtaining support outside Alberta.

Methods: AB WCB identified claims for time loss injuries >5 days for workers with a home province in Atlantic Canada. Each claim was matched with a worker from Alberta. AB WCB sent letters to all workers selected on our behalf, asking if they would participate in an interview about their experiences since their injury. Sixty individuals participated. The questionnaires were coded and analyzed in SPSS.

Results: We found that Atlantic participants faced more barriers and challenges with their return to work than those from Alberta. Atlantic participants were more likely to feel negatively about their return to work support, less likely to return to work, and worked less overall when they did return to work after their injury.

Conclusions: It is recommended that AB WCB provide more education to injured workers about the claim process as some participant’s dissatisfaction arose because of misperceptions (for example not appreciating that there is no national WCB). It can be recommended that the AB WCB consider partners in other provinces to facilitate rehabilitation/retraining closer to the home of workers injured in Alberta as one of the major barriers for the Atlantic participants’ return to work was the location of support.