Hurley et al. document the rise of care provided by workers' compensation boards (WCBs) in Canada and suggest that they potentially represent the "proverbial canaries in the coal mine" for the publicly funded healthcare system. Given WCBs' potential draw on similar resources and their ability to purchase services through incentive-based funding, some may argue that these systems do indeed challenge our current understanding of equitable access under the public system. Here we suggest, however, that while in some circumstances WCB behaviours and policies can create problems for the universal system, they can also serve as role models in their emphasis on prevention, evidence-based practice and timely service.