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.

Just Posted

Lake Country human rights leader honoured at Vernon school

Alaina Podmorow, 22, was inducted into Mission Hill Elementary’s Hall of Fame

Warriors looking for Teddy, hoping for win

West Kelowna hosts their annual Teddy Bear Toss fundraiser Saturday night

Two Okanagan players join Team Canada for Womens U18 World Championships

Anne Cherkowski and Sarah Paul will join the womens World Juniors team Dec. 26

WATCH: ‘Stubborn’ fire destroys Big White Ski Resort chalet

The building, which lit up in flames around 2 a.m., was an infamous spot to Big White locals

Rockets drop second straight, conclude 6-game road trip Saturday in Moose Jaw

Kelowna fell short against the Regina Pats 4-3 Friday night

VIDEO: Success of wildlife corridors in Banff National Park has advocates wanting more

Demand for more highway protection escalated after seven elk were killed by a semi-trailer near Canmore

RCMP officer volunteers as designated driver

Princeton’s two largest employers ensure safe rides for Christmas parties

Pacioretty scores 2, Golden Knights top Canucks 6-3

Vegas goalie Fleury gets win No. 452

In Photos: CP Rail Holiday Train lights up the Shuswap

The stop on the train’s Canada-wide journey came with a $5,500 donation to local food bank.

B.C. VIEWS: Hunger does not end with the season

Despite innovations in food distribution, the need is still there in B.C. communities

Kelowna RCMP officer suspended after allegedly sexting assault victim

RCMP confirm investigation but hold back details

Legendary primatologist coming to Okanagan

Dame Jane Goodall, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute, will present in Vernon Tuesday, March 24

Old Christmas card has ties to Summerland agriculture

Card was sent by former director of Summerland Research Station

Fans sing Canadian anthem after sound system breaks at BMW IBSF World Cup

The Canadians in attendance made sure their team and flag were honoured on the podium

Most Read