The B.C. Government has put forward several changes to the Workers Compensation Act to better support injured workers and improve WorkSafeBC’s ability to investigate incidents.
“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,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “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.”
The B.C. Government said the proposed changes will focus on improving support for injured workers and advance worker safety. The amendment includes a handful of changes:
- 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.
- Giving people a voice in serious workplace prosecutions and trials by using victim impact statements.
As well, the Province said the proposed legislation will fast track the effective date of presumptions if established by WorkSafeBC’s board of directors for occupational diseases caused by viral pathogens. It added that this simplifies the process of making a claim for workers that have contracted an illness on the job, giving workers that are at higher risk of catching illnesses such as COVID-19 easier access to benefits.
To help out businesses amid the pandemic, WorksafeBC has allowed them to differ premium payments for six months without penalties or interest, and waiving premiums on wages paid to workers of employers receiving the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy.