WorkSafeBC covers 2.4 million employees in B.C. in case of job-related injury, illness or death. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

B.C. businesses await worker compensation overhaul

Cost, ‘gender-based analysis’ among employer concerns

B.C.’s worker compensation system pulled itself out of an unfunded liability onto a solid financial footing after changes made in 2002, and now employers, injured workers and their families are waiting for the next overhaul.

WorkSafeBC is responsible for 45,000 sick or injured workers and more than 4,000 spouses and children who depend on pension payments, and administers an insurance system paid into by 238,000 B.C. employers. Workers give up their right to sue employers for negligence in exchange for no-fault compensation funded by employers and administered independently, an arrangement created in Ontario a century ago known as the “historic compromise.”

Among the terms for B.C. Green Party support of the minority NDP government was “improving fairness for workers and ensuring balance in workplaces,” and Labour Minister Harry Bains appointed retired labour lawyer Janet Patterson in April to conduct the review.

According to a consultant report prepared for the province in December, WorkSafeBC retains compensation rates “among the highest levels among workers’ compensation systems.”

Public hearings around the province on proposed changes have been completed, and final submissions from business and other groups are being submitted for a report to be released by the end of September.

In a joint submission by 46 employer groups, employers questioned terms of the review including a “gender-based analysis” and moving to a “worker-centric service delivery model.” The review’s terms of reference didn’t give them enough information to make recommendations, the employers said in their submission.

The employers noted that Patterson advised them that her review was not directed to examine costs of changes.

“We submit that the cost of funding the B.C. workers’ compensation system is an intrinsic and integral aspect of the ‘historic compromise’ which is the genesis of that system, that a balance must be drawn between the level of benefit entitlement for disabled workers and the cost to employers to fund the system, and that this balancing of interests is predicated on disabled workers receiving fair (but not full) protection against economic loss,” the employers wrote.

RELATED: Employer health tax is ‘profit-insensitive’

RELATED: WorkSafeBC warns of marijuana use on the job

In his report to the government, consultant Terrance Bogyo warned that turning back the clock on worker compensation is not an option, after employer premiums were increased and benefits restricted in 2002. Among those reforms was one restricting inflation indexation of pensions and cash awards to workers and survivors, reducing payouts by $584 million between 2002 and 2017.

Bogyo proposed a series of options for WorkSafeBC changes, including:

• Increase maximum insurable earnings to $100,000 per year

• Increase the presumed age of retirement from 65 to 70

• Assuming maximum earnings in the event of a work-related death

• Alter the current inflation cap of Consumer Price Index minus one per cent

B.C. businesses have shouldered the province’s new employer health tax this year, and many are still paying half of the Medical Services Plan premiums the new payroll tax is replacing as of 2020.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Hospital patient pleads guilty to dumbbell assault of nurse in Abbotsford

Neale Heath admits to assault causing bodily harm in attack last September

Abbotsford wrestlers earn gold at Miri Piri Championship

W.J. Mouat Hawks take home top team prize, many locals reach podium

Westbound Highway 1 roll-over crash slowing commuters in Abbotsford

Accident occurred just west of Mt. Lehman Road, left lane blocked

World-renowned violinist to perform at Abbotsford prison

Gidon Kremer’s concert on Jan. 29 is part of Looking at the Stars’ program

Man charged with killing woman in Kamloops motel room claims he ‘blacked out’

Debra Novacluse of Abbotsford was found beaten to death in a room at a Kamloops motel in 2016.

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Deer carcass strung up at Surrey fire hall prompts investigation

Investigation underway following complaint a Surrey firefighter hung a deer carcass in a fire hall

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Most Read