B.C. Labour Minister Harry Bains takes questions in the legislature on changes to WorkSafeBC regulations, July 21, 2020. (Hansard TV)

B.C. NDP stands by WorkSafeBC changes as business protests

Presuming COVID-19 infection job-related ‘contrary to medical science’

Leading business organizations are calling on the B.C. government to withdraw legislation that allows presumption of viral illness as a workplace injury, changes the determination of retirement age for injured workers and makes other changes to WorkSafeBC’s policies.

Premier John Horgan and Labour Minister Harry Bains stood by the changes in the B.C. legislature July 21, as opposition MLAs peppered him with concerns from a lengthy letter from the Business Council of B.C., the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, the Retail Council of Canada, Restaurants Canada and other business organizations.

Employers argue that B.C. is changing its provisions to deal with COVID-19 at a time when the federal government’s new sick pay program is still being worked out, and moves ahead with changes that “destabilize” the employer-funded compensation program at a time when businesses are reeling from pandemic-related loss of revenue and employment.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson led off question period by asking Bains why the changes beyond the recommendations of a consultant who met with business representatives.

“The proposed changes to workers’ compensation will make it even more difficult for small businesses to bounce back from this devastating pandemic,” Wilkinson said.

RELATED: B.C. changing WorkSafeBC rules for COVID-19 illness

RELATED: Employers drop out of ‘biased’ WorkSafeBC review

Waiving a 90-day period for determining if a viral illness is work-related “amounts to government pre-judging WorkSafeBC’s independent policy decision-making authority,” the letter states. (See full letter below.)

“We are disappointed the government would take a position contrary to all scientific and medical science. Such a position, regrettably mirrors the disastrous approach taken by the administration in the United States.”

Horgan emphasized that the changes do not increase WorkSafeBC payroll premiums for employers for three years.

“What we’ve done is increase benefits for workers without adding any cost to businesses,” Horgan said.

Bains noted that the government has taken significant steps to support business in the pandemic, including the ability to defer WorkSafeBC insurance payments for six months.

WorkSafeBC Bus Letter July20.20 by Tom Fletcher on Scribd


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislatureCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

Around 2,000 vote-by-mail packages have been requested in the Cariboo North electoral district. (Katya Slepian - Black Press Media)
B.C. Votes 2020: Cariboo North advance voting up in 2020

Nearly 4,500 people took advantage of advance voting in the Cariboo North electoral district

Troll Ski Resort is preparing for a ski season in the middle of a pandemic. (Quesnel Cariboo Observer File Photo)
Quesnel-area ski resort preparing for throwback season

Troll owner Hildur Fossberg Sinclair said they will operate like it was 30-40 years ago

Fifty spectators will be allowed in the West Fraser Centre, alongside 50 people on the ice. (Lindsay Chung Photo - Quesnel Cariboo Observer)
After tumultuous week of changes, Quesnel’s West Fraser Centre allowing spectators again

Capacity limits at the rink have changed four times in the past two weeks

(Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay)
QUIZ: A celebration of colour

Fall in British Columbia is a time to enjoy a spectrum of vivid colours

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read