Improvements to workers’ compensation system coming in 2022: Labour Minister Bains

LABOUR Minister Harry Bains announced on Wednesday that in 2022, the NDP government will explore a series of reforms to improve programs and services for workers injured in the workplace, as well as ensure workers are treated fairly while navigating the system.

Recommendations from several expert reports received by government since 2017, including the Helps, Petrie, Boygo and Patterson reports, will guide these changes.

Bains said: “It is crucial that this work includes consultations to ensure employers, workers and other stakeholders all have a voice in building a more balanced system.”

He added: “We must also better protect workers, the public and our environment from the deadly consequences of exposure to asbestos. Our government is reviewing options for safe asbestos abatement by ensuring employers and workers have appropriate knowledge and safety training.”

Bains said: “We are committed to a sustainable workers’ compensation system with affordable and stable premium rates paid by employers that places injured workers at the centre. Further, it is critical that work to reduce the incidence of workplace injuries and death remains a primary focus of prevention efforts undertaken daily by WorkSafeBC.

“We have been improving the workers’ compensation system since I became minister of labour in July 2017, including last year when our government amended the Workers Compensation Act to improve key areas that directly affect injured workers.”

These changes, which are now fully implemented, include:

* fast-tracking access to health treatments for injured workers to maximize their recovery;

* improving how benefits are calculated to better support claimants financially;

* allowing victim impact statements in court proceedings; and strengthening WorkSafeBC’s investigative tools;

* partnering with WorkSafeBC to improve engagement with workers and provide more responsive communications and services.

Bains said: “My ministry and WorkSafeBC are committed to supporting all those who rely on the workers’ compensation system during extremely difficult times in their lives. We are encouraged by the progress we have made so far, and we know we have much more to do.”