Merchant Seamen

Amendments to the: Merchant Seamen Compensation Act

The Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act, 2012 contains amendments to the Merchant Seamen Compensation Act. These amendments came into force on October 30, 2013 and streamline administration of the Act. The amendments to the Merchant Seamen Compensation Act will not affect the level of benefits and services provided.

As a result of these amendments, the Merchant Seamen Compensation Board has been dissolved and its responsibilities transferred to the federal Minister of Labour. The core administration of the Act will continue to be conducted by Labour Program officials as delegated by the Minister of Labour.

Are you a merchant seaman who has been injured on the job? Does your business hire merchant seamen? The Labour Program manages a federal program that can provide medical costs, rehabilitation and related expenses if a merchant seaman isn't otherwise covered by any other federal, provincial or territorial workers' compensation plan. If a work-related accident or illness results in death, the seaman's surviving dependants may also be entitled to compensation.

About the plan

The Merchant Seamen Compensation Act ensures that certain merchant seamen injured in work-related accidents can receive health benefits and medical compensation. The Act can also provide financial assistance for surviving dependants if a work-related injury results in the death of the seaman.

Whether the accident occurs in Canada or abroad, a seaman may receive compensation for expenses such as medical, surgical and dental aids, hospital stays and nursing services. If the workplace injury or illness leads to a permanent disability, the seamen could be entitled to disability payments based on a percentage of previous wages. In the case of death, the plan covers burial costs as well as ongoing payments to children, spouses or other dependants.

This Act applies only to those who aren't already covered by the Government Employees Compensation Act or any other provincial or territorial workers' compensation act. It is administered by Labour Program officials as delegated by the federal Minister of Labour. The Labour Program adjudicates claims but employers are ultimately responsible for paying all costs and administrative fees.

Are you eligible

You are eligible for benefits under the Merchant Seamen Compensation Act if:

  • you are a merchant seaman who isn't eligible for any other provincial or federal workers' compensation plan
  • the workplace injury or illness occurred while the ship was on either a home trade voyage or a foreign voyage, as defined in the Merchant Seamen Compensation Act

You are not eligible for these benefits if:

  • you are a fisherman, a pilot or an apprenticed pilot
  • the injury does not prevent you from earning full wages at work for at least three days
  • the accident was caused by your own misconduct (unless the injury results in death or serious disability)

Your rights as an employee

As a merchant seaman covered by the Merchant Seamen Compensation Act, you have the right to:

  • apply to receive compensation for employment-related injury or occupational disease
  • receive compensation for loss of earnings and the cost of medical aid, including rehabilitative services, to help you get back to work and overcome limitations and/or restrictions related to your injury or occupational disease
  • provide your recollection of how your accident happened
  • contact the Labour Program if you wish to discuss a ruling

Your responsibilities as an employee

You play an important role by working with your employer and Labour Program officials as they submit and process your claim for compensation. Among the responsibilities associated with this role, you must:

  • tell your immediate supervisor about any workplace injury or illness right away (your employer then has 60 days to make a claim)
  • quickly seek first aid to minimize the effects of the injury
  • notify your employer immediately upon your return to work if you have to seek medical treatment outside of working hours (or if you are unable to return to work, notify your employer of this)
  • provide your employer and authorities with as much detailed information about the accident or illness as you can: it all helps to support your claim
  • work with your employer to file a compensation claim
  • work closely with your claims officer and pay close attention to all instructions and guidelines
  • make sure you attend and keep a record of all medical appointments and treatment programs recommended by your doctor and Labour Program officials

Employer responsibilities

You are responsible for providing your employees with a safe work environment and for dealing with workplace injuries and illnesses in a timely and organized way. You should send Labour Program officials a written accident report within 60 days of any work-related accident or injury. It should list all details of a workplace injury or illness requiring medical care.

The report should include the time and location of the incident, the name and address of the seaman, the location of the accident, medical aid received by the seaman and any other information requested by Labour Program officials.

You must buy insurance against the risk of workers' compensation claims. You are responsible for paying for any costs related to medical examinations or treatment, including transportation to hospitals, if required.

If the claim is approved, you must pay all compensation awarded by the Minister of Labour as well as administrative expenses.

Do you have other questions about workers' compensation? You can contact the Labour Program directly:

Federal Workers' Compensation Service
Toll-free telephone: 1-855-535-7299
Facsimile: 819-934-6590

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