COVID-19, communicable diseases now included in the act
WorkSafeBC’s Board of Directors approved amendments to Schedule 1 of the Workers Compensation Act to add a presumption for infections caused by communicable viral pathogens, which are the subject of a B.C.-specific emergency declaration or notice.
With the amendment, Schedule 1 of the act now covers COVID-19 and other infections caused by communicable viral pathogens given that it is the subject of one or more of the following under Column 1:
- notice given under section 52(2) of the Public Health Act
- a state of emergency declared under section 9(1) of the Emergency Program Act
- a state of local emergency declared under section 12(1) of the Emergency Program Act
- an emergency declared under section 173 of the Vancouver Charter
It also applies to process or industry where:
- there is a risk of exposure to a source or sources of infection significantly greater than that to the public at large
- the risk of exposure occurs during the applicable notice or emergency under column 1
- the risk of exposure occurs within the geographical area of the applicable notice or emergency under column 1
Changes will take effect on Oct. 26, 2020.
In June, workers’ union Unifor called on the British Columbia government to continue with the proposed changes to workers' compensation that would see employers help to cover the costs associated with saving the lives of workers who contracted COVID-19 at work.
British Columbia has proposed changes to provincial labour laws to provide better support to injured workers and their families and enhance WorkSafeBC’s ability to investigate workplace incidents, while keeping premiums low.
WorkSafeBC will be holding a virtual public hearing on proposed amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Regulation to be streamed live on Sept. 30, 2020.