VANCOUVER, British Columbia – British Columbia has amended its Workers Compensation Act, which it says “will provide better support to injured workers and their families and enhance WorkSafeBC’s ability to investigate workplace incidents, while keeping premiums low.”
Proposed changes include:
- raising the maximum annual salary amount on which workers’ compensation benefits are based;
- authorizing WorkSafeBC to provide preventative medical treatment before a claim is accepted;
- giving powers to the court to issue WorkSafeBC search and seizure warrants that are appropriate for investigating workplace safety infractions; and
- giving people a voice in serious workplace prosecutions and trials by using victim impact statements.
The legislation also factors in the COVID-19 pandemic by simplifying the process for workers who make a workers’ compensation claim if they contract viruses on the job. At the same time, during the COVID-19 pandemic, WorkSafeBC is allowing businesses to defer paying their premiums for six months without penalty or interest. In addition, WorkSafeBC is waiving premiums on wages paid to workers of employers receiving the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy for the duration of the program.
Harry Bains, minister of labour, said, “For too many years, we have heard from injured workers in B.C. that the system lacks fairness and doesn’t work for them or support them through their injuries. Today’s changes are an important step in modernizing the Workers Compensation Act, ensuring workers and their families get the support they need, while also increasing everyone’s confidence in the system.”
Forty-six members of the Employers’ Forum, an organization consisting of more than 80 trade associations and companies, withdrew from the worker’s compensation review process last fall citing concerns that new provisions were biased in favour of unions. The Employer’s Forum includes Air Canada, BC Construction Association, Canadian Home Builders Association of BC and Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters.
According to WorkSafeBC, more than 100,000 new claims are filed each year due to workplace injury or fatality.
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