Highlights of Noteworthy Decisions

Decision 1105 19
R. Nairn
  • Statutory interpretation (principles of)
  • Retirement benefits (accumulated investment income)

In Decision No. 2724/15, the Tribunal found that the worker had entitlement for an accident in April 2004. The Board then granted LOE benefits. The operating level assessed the worker's claim for entitlement to loss of retirement income (LRI) benefits. The worker elected to contribute 5% of his LOE benefits toward the LRI fund. The LRI payment to the worker was comprised of the Board's contribution to the LRI fund ($9,263.98) and the interest payable on those contributions ($1,145.21) for a total of $10,409.19. The Board also paid the investment income earned on the LRI benefit ($12.44) for the three-month period from the date the Board granted the LRI benefit, to the date it became payable.

The worker appealed a decision of the Appeals Resolution Officer confirming the $12.44 for investment income earned on the LRI benefit.
The issue in this case arose because it was not until the Tribunal's release of Decision No. 2724/15 in May 2016, that the worker was granted initial entitlement for his 2004 claim. At that point, the Board's operating level had to retroactively determine all the benefits to which the worker would have been entitled from 2004 onwards. In addition to paying the worker his retroactive LOE benefits as well as interest on the delayed payment of those benefits, the Board also paid the worker the 5% LRI contribution it would have been required to make under s. 45(2) of the WSIA, as well as interest on that delayed 5% LRI contribution. The Board also paid the worker a sum representing the investment income made on the 5% LRI contribution, but only for the few months the money was actually invested, not back to the date of accident like the LOE benefits and 5% LRI contribution were calculated. In Decision No. 1105/19I, the Vice-Chair decided to request additional information from the Board concerning current and applicable Board practice and any other information the Board considers helpful.
The worker submitted that the Board should place him in the position he would have been had it not erred in initially denying entitlement for the 2004 claim.
Under s. 45(5), a worker on reaching 65 years of age is entitled to receive a retirement benefit, the amount of which is the sum of the amount set aside by the Board and the contribution by the worker, if any, plus the accumulated investment income on those amounts.
Neither the WSIA nor the applicable policy defines the term "accumulated investment income." The modern principle of statutory interpretation provides that the words of an Act are to be read in their entire context and in their grammatical and ordinary sense harmoniously with the scheme of the Act, the object of the Act, and the intention of Parliament.
After reviewing definitions, the Vice-Chair found that the legal meaning of the phrase "accumulated investment income" would refer to income that is generated by investments while remaining in an account that has yet to be distributed by a trustee, in this case, the Board. It follows that the plain meaning of the phrase "accumulated investment income" suggests that the only investment income to which a worker would be eligible would be that which was earned while the worker's contributions and any amounts set aside, were actually placed in the LRI benefit fund.
Having considered the plain meaning of the phrase "accumulated investment income", the Vice-Chair then proceeded to consider whether that meaning, or first impression, was consistent with the purpose and intent of the legislation.
In furtherance of the requirement to administer the WSIA in a financially responsible and accountable manner, the Legislature, in s. 45, has set out a distinct and very detailed scheme concerning payments to be made to workers for loss of their retirement income. Considering the detailed scheme set out to create and administer the LRI fund, the Vice-Chair found it reasonable to suggest that, had the Legislature intended that workers be compensated for retroactive investment income or speculative investment income, it could have done so. Further, this interpretation is consistent with the context and purpose of s. 45 and s. 45(5). Reading s. 45 as a whole, one cannot have "accumulated investment income" until monies are actually invested in the fund contemplated under s. 45(12).
The appeal was dismissed.