The Appeal Commission was established by legislative amendment to The Workers Compensation Act (the Act) in July 1990. The Appeal Commission is the final level of appeal in the workers compensation system. The Appeal Commission operates separately and independently from the WCB and is solely responsible for hearing all appeals from workers and employers concerning WCB Review Office or Assessment Committee decisions.
The Act requires that the Appeal Commission consist of one or more appeal commissioners representing the public interest, one of whom is designated as Chief Appeal Commissioner, and one or more appeal commissioners representing workers and employers covered under the Act. The Chief Appeal Commissioner is responsible for the operation and conduct of matters relating to the Appeal Commission as established by the Act. The full and part-time appeal commissioners are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor in Council for specific terms.
The Appeal Commission’s procedure is governed by Regulation 279/91, Appeal Commission Rules of Procedure. The Rules of Procedure establish the responsibilities of the Chief Appeal Commissioner, the Registrar and the appeal panels to ensure that the integrity of the appeal system is protected and maintained.
Panels of three commissioners, representing public, worker and employer interests respectively, hear appeals. The commissioner representing the public interest is the Presiding Officer of the panel and is responsible for the conduct of the hearing/review and panel meetings.
Hearings and reviews are conducted in accordance with the rules of natural justice and procedural fairness. All parties to an appeal (i.e., the employer, worker and their representatives) are given an equal opportunity to present their case.
The Appeal Commission is a non-adversarial enquiry forum where parties with a direct interest in a matter provide oral or written evidence. An appeal panel has the ability to ask questions or obtain additional evidence which ensures that the panel has all the information necessary to reach a fair decision.
An appeal panel may hear witnesses from either or both parties and may subpoena witnesses or evidence that will assist the panel in reaching a decision. A party with a direct interest may appear before the panel to provide evidence or in some cases, ask the panel to conduct a paper review of the file which would not require the attendance of any party.
The Appeal Commission also hears applications submitted pursuant to subsection 68(4) of the Act. This subsection deals with the determination of whether or not a right of action is removed by the Act.
The Appeal Commission also acts as the final level of appeal for the claims of victims of crime filed under the provisions of The Criminal Injuries Compensation Act and The Victims’ Bill of Rights.