The Act Respecting Industrial Accidents and Occupational Diseases, CQLR, c. A-3.001 (the “Act”) has many provisions that allow it to be flexibly and effectively applied to various generations of workers.
For example, in an economic environment where more and more young employees or recent retirees are self-employed, as freelancers or consultants, questions frequently arise concerning the true status of independent workers. This status is precisely determined by the Act.
The Act also contains provisions regarding volunteer workers, now that more and more individuals are acting in that capacity on behalf of those in need.
Entitlement to indemnities for income-replacement and rehabilitation are also covered by specific provisions in cases where an employment injury results in permanent functional limitations that prevent a worker from performing his work. . More specifically, a worker having such limitations who is 60 years of age or older at the time of the work-related accident will automatically be considered totally disabled and will receive indemnity benefits until age 68. Where the functional limitations are instead due to an occupational illness, the age threshold drops to 55.
In a different vein, the majority of studies conclude that younger employees more often sustain occupational injuries, in proportion to their numbers in the workforce. Among the factors explaining this finding is the fact that younger workers have a greater propensity to engage in negligent or dangerous conduct. In such cases, section 27 of the Act may apply: generally, an occupational injury resulting from such conduct does not give rise to any indemnification whatsoever.
Finally, the assessment rules are influenced, in certain cases, by the age of the worker who suffered a work-related injury. For example, the sharing of costs pursuant to section 329 of the Act (pre-existing handicap), which is based on a deviation from the bio-medical standard, may be more difficult to obtain where the victim is older. For example, moderate lumbar disc degeneration will be considered abnormal in a 25-year old worker, but perfectly normal in a 50-year old. Cases of intercurrent illnesses giving rise to the partial or total reversal of an assessment for costs are also generally more frequent in the case of older workers.
Finally, section 56 of the Act provides for a reduction in the amount of income-replacement indemnities to which a worker is entitled as of age 65, until the entitlement is completely extinguished at age 68. This age-based discrimination has been deemed acceptable by the courts.