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.

Just Posted

Storm prompts travel warning for Boundary, West Kootenay

Up to 25 cm expected on high mountain passes

RED Mountain resort delays opening day

Lack of snow puts damper on start of season

Cops seize load of pot near Salmo

Traffic stop nets hundreds of pounds of cannabis

Home fuel tank fails, spilling oil near Nakusp

Officials say 700 litres may have escaped in the spill

Rossland company secures $20 million in venture capital

Money will help Thoughtexchange compete on the world stage

‘A loud sonic boom’: Gabriola Island residents recount fatal plane crash

Area where the plane went down is primarily a residential neighbourhood, RCMP say

‘Honest mistake:’ RCMP says B.C. cannabis shop can keep image of infamous Mountie

Sam Steele wearing military, not RCMP uniform in image depicted in Jimmy’s Cannabis window

B.C. conservation officers put down fawn blinded by BB gun on Vancouver Island

Young deer found near construction site in Hammond Bay area in Nanaimo, B.C.

Laid-off forest workers converge on B.C. legislature

Loggers call for action on strike, provincial stumpage

B.C. guide fined $2K in first conviction under new federal whale protection laws

Scott Babcock found guilty of approaching a North Pacific humpback whale at less than 100 metres

Feds urge Air Canada to fix booking problems as travel season approaches

The airline introduced the new reservation system more than three weeks ago

Almost 14,000 Canadians killed by opioids since 2016: new national study

17,000 people have been hospitalized for opioid-related poisoning

Chevron move to exit Kitimat LNG project a dash of ‘cold water’ for gas industry

Canada Energy Regulator approved a 40-year licence to export natural gas for Kitimat LNG

B.C. cities top the list for most generous in Canada on GoFundMe

Chilliwack took the number-two spot while Kamloops was at the top of the list

Most Read