Historically, workers unlucky enough to get sick or injured at work were on their own. Workers faced financial ruin if an accident or illness left them unable to work. Families drove themselves into bankruptcy paying doctors’ bills, but they had to so that a sick or injured wage-earner could continue to bring in an income.
For this reason, workers were at the forefront of fighting for universal public health insurance, and were instrumental in winning Canada’s national Medicare program in 1966. But workers also fought in the workplace for insurance against sickness and accidents. Together, they fought for the right to have disability, life, dental and supplemental medical insurance plans. Workers weren’t at risk of poverty if their health failed in retirement.
When workers come together to negotiate workplace health benefit plans, they and their families are far more likely to remain in good health. Today, workers covered by a collective agreement are about 30% more likely to have health benefits than those without a collective agreement. And employers benefit from a healthy, secure and productive workforce.