B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains. (Hansard TV)

Employer groups drop out of WorkSafeBC review in protest

NDP government’s reviewer ‘biased, exceeding mandate’

The B.C. government’s latest review of WorkSafeBC policies and payouts has taken a left turn toward recommendations made by organized labour a decade ago, B.C.’s large business organizations say.

Employer groups including the Business Council of B.C., the B.C. Construction Association and the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association wrote to retired labour lawyer Janet Patterson, the head of the B.C. government’s review Wednesday. They said the “selected issues” chosen by Patterson for review exceed the mandate they were expecting and match closely with her report 10 years ago commissioned by the B.C. Federation of Labour.

“The employer community is quite taken aback and dismayed with the extremely broad and far-reaching scope of these ‘selected issues,’ and after giving the matter due consideration and consulting with various representatives of the employer community, we have determined that we have no choice but to cease all participation in the review’s process, effective immediately,” wrote Doug Alley of the Employers’ Forum, representing the 46 business groups.

After the review was announced this spring, Labour Minister Harry Bains assured the Council of Construction Associations in June that it was narrow and focused on improving worker navigation of injury claims and improve performance, “not to make wholesale changes to the workers’ compensation system” that employers fund, the letter states.

But a memo to employers last week listing the “selected issues” shows that they were contained in a 2009 report co-authored by Patterson entitled “Adding Insult to Injury.” The B.C. Federation of Labour’s submission to the current review in July called for the 2009 report to be considered.

RELATED: B.C. businesses await worker compensation overhaul

RELATED: Pregnant teachers seek new WorkSafeBC coverage

“We were willing to participate in a balanced an impartial process to review the system,” Richard Truscott, B.C. and Alberta vice president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, said in a statement Wednesday. “However, the writing has been on the wall from the very beginning that the review lacked objectivity.”

The 46 employer organizations made their own initial submission to Patterson in July, questioning terms such as “gender-based analysis” and moving to a “worker-centric delivery model” that were not clearly defined.

WorkSafeBC is responsible for 45,000 sick or injured workers and more than 4,000 spouses and children who depend on pension payments. It administers an insurance system paid into by 238,000 B.C. employers, where workers give up their right to sue employers for negligence in exchange for no-fault compensation that is independently administered.

Reviewing WorkSafeBC was one of the terms of the B.C. Green Party agreement to support the minority NDP government in 2017.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

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

Just Posted

Two new COVID-19 cases announced in Interior Health region

The total number of cases in the region is at 533

More wildfire smoke to fill the Okanagan

The smoke is coming from wildfires in California but is expected to be much lighter

Documentary to celebrate the Shuswap’s music scene

Local initiative to feature several of the region’s artists

Former Shuswap resident’s book describes how child’s death transforms mother’s life

Destanne Norris to hold book signings in Vernon and Salmon Arm

B.C. counts 125 new COVID-19 cases, up to 1,284 active

No new deaths or health care facility outbreaks

Guns seized in relation to southeast Kelowna murder investigation

RCMP seized several firearms from a West Kelowna home on Tuesday

Health Canada green-lights rapid COVID-19 test

Health Canada approved the BCube test from Hyris Ltd. in the United Kingdom Sept. 23

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

6 puppies rescued in mass seizure on Princeton farm die from illness: BC SPCA

Of the 97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized, most of the puppies suffered from parvo

Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

Family and Indigenous organizations push for thorough investigation

Okanagan man accused of attacking two young boys back in court

Brian Lamb will remain behind bars until at least Oct. 14

U.S. boater fined $1,000 for violation of Quarantine Act

49-year-old man entered Canada to visit girlfriend in Surrey

Revelstoke source of clue on Jeopardy

The prompt challenged knowledge of both art and wildlife in the area

Most Read