Injured workers left waiting, eighteen months after government report calling for change

  June 1, 2021 | News Release

(Unceded Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam territories — Vancouver, BC)  The BC Federation of Labour released a report today highlighting glaring government inaction to fix BC’s broken compensation system for workers injured at work. Released on National Injured Workers Day, the Workers Deserve Better report lays out concrete legislative and policy changes needed to create a fair, accountable, and worker-centred compensation system.

“The workers’ compensation system in BC is stacked against workers. It’s structured like a private insurance company with inadequate compensation and arbitrary benefit cut-offs,” said BCFED President Laird Cronk. “We must do better than a cookie cutter approach, where impersonal computer models determine injury recovery timelines. If you get injured at work tomorrow, you enter a system designed to limit costs rather than focussing on your successful return to work and ensuring you are fairly compensated for your injury.”

If you are an injured worker, or know someone who has been treated unfairly by the system and is willing and able to speak out, please let us know.  

In 2002, the BC Liberal government made big changes to the system. These changes reduced benefits considerably, ended life-long pensions with a 65-age cut-off, and made the system much harder to navigate.

Below are a sample of key recommendations made in the Workers Deserve Better report:

  • Create a Fair Practices Commission independent of the WCB to deal with worker and employer complaints and an independent medical services office to address medical disputes;
  • Include more worker representatives on the WCB Board of Directors;
  • Eliminate the discriminatory barriers to compensation for psychological injury;
  • Amend the Workers Compensation Act (WCA) to properly resource and personalize vocational rehabilitation while involving the worker;
  • Place the needs and recovery of injured workers above the speed at which a worker returns to work as a key measure of success; stop relying on a computer system to determine when an injury will heal;
  • Amend the WCA to stop deducting CPP disability from workers’ benefits;
  • Provide resources to ensure appropriate engagement with Indigenous communities, farmworkers and other groups of workers that face systemic barriers;
  • Improve communication with workers and employers, with more resources to help workers navigate the complicated compensation system;
  • Allow the WCB to consider exceptional circumstances impacting workers’ pre-injury earnings; pay interest to workers when the WCB wrongly denies a worker benefits and must endure a lengthy delay.

The full report can be downloaded here.