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

NIC online marine training accessed by mariners across the country

NIC was among the first post-secondary schools to receive approval for digital marine courses

Sale of Vancouver Island’s most remote pub falls through

Beloved Holberg pub and restaurant The Scarlet Ibis is back with previous owner

North Island College announces 2020 graduation award winners

North Island College has announced the award recipients for the 2020 Graduation… Continue reading

Couple opts for plan B for wedding in Courtenay

Pandemic restrictions prompt April Powell and Hayden Eely to change plans for the big day

B.C. records 62 new COVID-19 cases, two deaths since Friday

Province has just over 200 active cases

Port Alberni will have a salmon derby on Labour Day after all

Alberni Valley Tyee Club reveals ‘socially distanced’ derby only for Labour Day 2020

Search for missing hiker suspended once again

Search for Laurence Philippsen was revived over the weekend after new information was received

Hotel rooms for B.C. homeless too hasty, NDP government told

Businesses forced out, but crime goes down, minister says

Suspicious fire quenched before reaching gunpowder in Nanaimo’s historic Bastion

Probe underway in basement blaze that erupted near where powder stored to fire signature cannons

Duncan model makes quarter finals in ‘Maxim’ magazine contest

Brandee Peart among top one per cent left in competition

Wage subsidy will be extended until December amid post-COVID reopening: Trudeau

Trudeau said the extension will ‘give greater certainty and support to businesses’

Outdoor activities starting up in Courtenay

Courtenay Recreation is moving into the next phase of its summer programming,… Continue reading

B.C. government prepares for COVID-19 economic recovery efforts

New measures after July consultation, Carole James says

Most Read