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Invalid, he denounces the end of CNESST benefits

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Mar22,2024

Invalid, he denounces the end of CNESST benefits

Camil Mercier was the victim of a work accident in 2015.

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Camil Mercier, a 65-year-old from the North Coast, has no longer been able to work since 2015 due to a work accident. Today, he denounces the policies of the CNESST, which will withdraw all his compensation from the age of 68, while road accident victims are compensated for life. Lawyer Marc Bellemare, who defends work accident victims, says this is a “profound injustice” that has lasted for 40 years.

It’s not that I don’t want to work…I can’t work! exclaims Mr. Mercier, in tears. This former employee of Brasco, a subcontractor of the Alouette aluminum smelter, was the victim of a fall in 2015 which left him with a cracked rib and a shoulder in poor condition.

Since then, Camil Mercier can no longer work and receives income replacement compensation from the CNESST, which is equivalent to 90% of his salary.

However, from the age of 65, these benefits decrease by 25% each year. From the age of 68, Mr. Mercier will no longer receive a penny from the CNESST.

However, victims of a road accident declared disabled receive lifetime compensation from the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ).

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I don't understand the CNESST's point of view, explains Camil Mercier. We have as many needs as a disabled person when it comes to car insurance.

Disabled and on medication, he estimates his expenses at $1,000 per month to delegate physical tasks such as clearing snow from the entrance to his home or mowing the lawn during the summer.

Before seeing his compensation reduced by 25%, Camil Mercier received a little less than $2,000 per month from the CNESST.

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Camil Mercier's income replacement compensation has started to decrease.

Without compensation within three years, he fears losing his house. His distress was such that he said he attempted suicide.

What I would like from the government is that it does like car insurance, that we are paid until the end of our days and that the CNESST pays us what they pay us have cut, says Camil Mercier.

In fact, Camil Mercier is not the only one in this situation. Lawyer Marc Bellemare, who defends victims of road and work accidents, judges that the CNESST completely abandons disabled people linked to work accidents.

Without compensation after age 68, people declared disabled after a work accident find themselves in destitution and poverty, points out Mr. Bellemare. These people end up with the Retraite Québec pension; It's about the only income they have, he adds.

An injustice, according to the former Minister of Justice, which has persisted since the modification of the law on industrial accidents in 1985, which set the end of compensation at the age of 68.

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Lawyer and former Minister of Justice Marc Bellemare in his offices (Archive photo)

The regulation, 40 years old, gives victims of work accidents have a very different status from that of victims of road accidents, who receive benefits from the SAAQ for life.

Moreover, all road accident victims who are no longer able to work could find themselves in a situation similar to that of Camil Mercier until the CAQ government came to modify the regulation, in July 2022 to ensure that victims of road accidents are compensated for life by the SAAQ.

These are Quebecers who, normally, should be entitled to the same status and the same benefits, regardless of the origin of their disability.

A quote from Marc Bellemare, lawyer and former Minister of Justice of Quebec

According to the lawyer, the law on work accidents should be modified to be harmonized with the SAAQ regulations.

For the general secretary of the Union of injured or sick workers, Félix Lapan, it is normal for income replacement benefits to end at the time which corresponds to a worker's retirement age.

Indeed, according to him, the problem is not the end of CNESST compensation, but rather the absence of CNESST contributions to the pension plan of Quebec.

The problem is that, when they retire, the workers' pension plan, during all the periods in which they were compensated by the CNESST, did not receive contributions that correspond to the years during which they would have worked.

A quote from Félix Lapan, general secretary of the Union of Injured or Sick Workers

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The general secretary of the Union of Injured or Sick Workers, Félix Lapan

During the period of payment of income replacement compensation, an amount is withdrawn based on the mandatory contributions that should be collected, such as taxes, employment insurance, the parental insurance plan and the Quebec Pension Plan.

However, no amount is paid to the latter scheme.

Thus, since the CNESST does not pay any amount to the RRQ, when people who are victims of a work accident retire, they are penalized, explains Mr. Lapan.

We have been asking for years that the CNESST make payments to the RRQ as if people had continued to work, that compensated periods be counted as if they were worked and that the RRQ calculate the retirement pension, denounces he.

Questioned on this subject during a press conference in Sept-Îles, the Minister of Employment, Kateri Champagne Jourdain, responded that the Mr. Mercier's situation concerned her.

She maintains that the Minister of Labor, Jean Boulet, asked Retraite Québec to examine the different compensation programs for accident victims in order to know their financial situation at retirement age.

With information from Renaud Chicoine-McKenzie

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Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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