Agenda Index City of Vancouver


DATE: October 13, 1998

Author/Local: John Beckett/7580
CC File No. 1379

TO: Vancouver City Council

General Managers of Engineering Services and Park Board

SUBJECT: Disability Management Staffing


B. THAT Council approve the creation of one Disability Case Coordinator to manage the Short and Long-Term Disability Plans covering CUPE 1004 employees. Funding is available through savings created by reductions in expenditures from the Short Term/Long-term disability benefit account.


- 2 -



The purpose of this report is to seek Council's approval to eliminate one senior practitioner position, use the funding for it to create two administrative positions, and create an additional full-time position to assist with the disability management process throughout the City.


The current complement of rehabilitation staff are responsible for disability management for all absences for WCB and sick leave. Our staff represented by CUPE 1004, however, are covered by a disability plan administered by Great West Life Insurance (GWL). GWL adjudicates, provides payment and does some basic rehabilitation work with that workforce. Over the past 15 years, we have had a variety of carriers providing some rehabilitation services, none of which have been satisfactory. In fact, successful rehabilitation programs tend to only occur when they are managed by the organization, not the insurance carrier.

The City Manager approved on June 16, 1997, funding to hire a Disability Case Coordinator for a trial period to manage the absences of individuals on the CUPE 1004 Short and Long Term Disability Plan. As a result of the success of that trial, the City was able, as part of the 1998 budget reduction, to reduce the short-term disability accounts by $300,000. In order to maintain that savings, it was recognized that a full-time resource would be required for on-going management of the absences.


The City Rehabilitation Program is seen as leading edge and has been copied by other Cities including the City of Baltimore and District of Columbia. It has been recognized numerous times in the WCB News, Back to Work publications and HR Journals. The program has been adapted and modified to meet the changing needs of our organization, and the demands of City supervisors. City managers and supervisors have come to rely on this program to assist them in getting employees back to work as soon as they are able. There are significant administrative demands on staff who run the program, which we had not anticipated. As a result, we used the funding from a vacant Rehabilitation Case Coordinator position to create

- 3 -

two administrative positions on a trial basis to see if that would deal with the contact and paper work issues. It has and this report is requesting those temporary positions be made full-time. Funding will come from the underfilled professional position at no additional cost to the City.

In 1997, Human Resource Services expanded disability management to the short-term disability plan for the outside workforce by engaging a Disability Case Coordinator for a trial period of one year to determine whether a reduction in the time absent and therefore claims costs would justify the establishment of a full-time position to manage these disability claims.

Increasing the rehabilitation portion of the GWL contract is not considered to be an effective option. We have had a consultant assisting us on return to work issues in the outside area with little success. Barriers to returning these employees to work are not always medical but rather labour relations based and external consultants have neither the knowledge of the internal dynamics of the organization nor a vested interest in the outcomes of their recommendations. Our experience indicates we need to use internal staff to work daily with our operations managers to assist them in returning employees to work.

After nine months of intervening in this area, we have seen a significant reduction ($360,000) in the cost of short-term disability. Further savings will be realized in the future as fewer employees move from short to long-term disability. Our interventions early on in the process have had a dramatic effect on the duration of absences in this workforce. A disability management position is required to realize these savings on an on-going basis.


The Disability Case Coordinator position will be funded from the existing accounts within existing funding levels for short and long-term disability benefits for employees represented by CUPE 1004. The reduction in the costs of disability benefits will more than offset the budget reduction cost of this staff person. The one-year trial provided an opportunity to align the process with the disability management for the rest of the organization, deal with a backlog, and confirm whether there was value to continue this approach and confirm our future needs.

The two administrative positions, while an increase of one on the City's staffing complement, are already funded on a temporary basis through under-funding a professional position.

- 4 -

This report has been distributed to all affected civic unions and employee group representatives.


This is a good initiative for both the City and its employees. We have stopped uncontrolled increasing costs. The savings gained will ultimately reduce the overhead costs of our operations. These programs are necessary for City operations to remain competitive and to avoid increased costs in the future.

* * * * *


Comments or questions? You can send us email.
[City Homepage] [Get In Touch]

(c) 1998 City of Vancouver