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

Terrace conservation officers relocate Spirit bear

Bear roamed Kitsumkalum Valley north of Terrace for many years

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Three projects on the North Coast awarded funding

Small space extrication

Prince Rupert Fire Rescue enhances expertise with confined space certification training

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Northern Health has no cases of COVID-19

The largest geographical health region has had the least reported cases of coronavirus.

Horgan says B.C. restart making gains as more people come out of their homes

B.C. announced the easing of more restrictions on businesses, recreation and travel last month

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly bear cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Lower Mainland YouTubers claim to be Kelowna display toilet ‘poopers’

RCMP can not speak to legitimacy of video, will be investigating

Haida matriarchs occupy ancient villages as fishing lodges reopen to visitors

‘Daughters of the rivers’ say occupation follows two fishing lodges reopening without Haida consent

RCMP confirm homicide investigation underway near Quesnel

Police releasing few details four days after homicide occurred Monday, July 6

Conservatives say police should be called into investigate WE charity scandal

Trudeau is already under investigation by the ethics commissioner for potential conflict of interest

Amber Alert continues for missing Quebec girls, 6 and 11, and their father

Police issued the alert for Norah Carpentier, 11, and Romy Carpentier, 6, from Levis, Que.

Most Read