BC enhancing benefits and protection for injured workers

'We're making sure that workers are properly supported when they need it most'

BC enhancing benefits and protection for injured workers

The British Columbia government has revised its Workers Compensation Act to better support workers who get injured in the line of duty within the province.

These changes will restore fairness for workers injured on the job and their families while bringing BC in line with other provinces in providing benefits for injured workers, according to the provincial government.

“People injured on the job need to know that there is a workers’ compensation system that meets their needs,” says Harry Bains, BC Minister of Labour. “With these changes, we’re making sure that workers are properly supported when they need it most.”

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Under Bill 41, employers will have a duty to re-employ injured workers and to accommodate returning workers short of undue hardship. The amendment also requires employers and workers to cooperate with each other and with WorkSafeBC to support the return of the worker to their pre-injury employment or, where this is not possible, to other suitable work.

“Better return-to-work outcomes for workers support more productive workplaces and can, ultimately, lower workers’ compensation costs for employers,” according to the legislation.

The legislation also requires WorkSafeBC to pay interest on delayed compensation benefit payments owed to a person for 180 or more days. Interest payable must be calculated in accordance with policies set by WorkSafeBC.

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The amendments also implement the following rules:

  • WorkSafeBC’s board of directors will appoint a fair practices commissioner (FPC) who will investigate complaints by workers and employers of alleged unfairness in dealings with WorkSafeBC, including systemic issues. The commissioner will be able to make recommendations for resolving these complaints and will issue an annual report to the board of directors.
  • Independent health professionals (IHP) will be allowed to be requested as part of an appeal to the external Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT), after the avenues to address medical disputes at WorkSafeBC and its internal review division have been pursued. 
  • The government will introduce explicit provisions against employers dissuading workers from filing a claim for compensation, with enforcement through penalties under the occupational health and safety provisions of the Workers Compensation Act.
  • Restore indexing of workers’ compensation benefits to the full rate of annual percentage changes in the Canadian Consumer Price Index (CPI). WorkSafeBC will have the discretion to approve annual indexation above four per cent, if the percentage change in the CPI exceeds that amount.
  • WorkSafeBC will be allowed to set a higher cap for compensation for non-traumatic hearing loss consistent with the evolving science. The said compensation is currently capped at 15 per cent.

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Once the legislation passes, WorkSafeBC and the Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal will develop the necessary policy and program updates to fully implement the changes.

In April 2019, the Ministry of Labour launched a review of the workers’ compensation system, led by Janet Patterson. Her report, released in August 2020, provided recommendations for system-wide and structural changes to achieve a more effective system for workers.