Terms of Reference
Whereas the Workers Compensation Act (the Act) was born out of a compromise between BC’s workers and employers in 1917, where workers gave up the right to sue their employers or fellow workers for injuries on the job in return for an employer funded no-fault insurance system;
And whereas the last comprehensive review of the Act took place in 2002, and the last significant amendments to the Act were made in 2002 and 2003;
And whereas there have been significant changes in workplaces, the economy and the workforce of British Columbia over the past 16 years;
And whereas the Premier’s July 2017 mandate letter to the Minister of Labour includes the following direction:
Review and develop options with WorkSafeBC to increase compliance with employment laws and standards put in place to protect the lives and safety of workers.
And whereas the Confidence and Supply Agreement from May 2017 contains the following commitment at Section 2 (d):
Improve fairness for workers, ensure balance in workplaces, and improve measures to protect the safety of workers at work so that everyone goes home safely and that workers and families are protected in cases of death or injury.
And whereas the Minister has directed the chair of the Board of Directors of WorkSafeBC to effect a systemic culture shift to ensure the workers’ compensation system is more “worker centred”, that injured workers be treated with compassion, respect and dignity, and that increases confidence in the system;
And whereas the Minister has supported this systemic culture shift by:
- Refreshing the Board of Directors of WorkSafeBC, including a new chair.
- Clearly articulating the needed culture change within WorkSafeBC itself to improve services, with a focus on injured workers who need care, compassion and respect while they recover.
- Directing the WorkSafeBC Board to remind employers of their responsibilities and accountability to reduce workplace injuries and death under the Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OSHR).
- Directing the WorkSafeBC Board to review its Rehabilitation and Claims Services policies to determine if there are policies that could be amended to ensure a worker-centred approach which resulted in a report published on April 25, 2018 by Paul Petrie entitled “Restoring the Balance: A Worker-Centred Approach to Workers’ Compensation Policy”. The report contains 41 recommendations for change which has led to the development of a workplan to engage interested stakeholders in a process to implement as many of the recommendations as possible. Stakeholder consultation is underway on the 2019-2021 workplan.
- Amending legislation (Bill 9-2018) to add a presumption for first responders who experience trauma as a result of their work and which results in a diagnosed mental health injury/disorder.
- Considering development of a regulation to expand coverage for the Bill 9 presumption to other occupations, including nurses and dispatchers (and call-takers) who support first responders.
- Directing the WorkSafeBC Board to prepare a report on the background and options available to WorkSafeBC under the WCA to manage the unappropriated balance in the Accident Fund.
- Leading a cross-ministry working group, with involvement and input from WorkSafeBC, to better protect people and the environment from the dangers of asbestos. A report for consultation and input was released December 19, 2018.
- Working to review how government, WorkSafeBC, and the Criminal Justice Branch should respond to serious injuries and fatalities of workers in light of Bill C-45 (2004).
- Working to support WorkSafeBC’s implementation of a 5-year prevention strategy as part of its Strategic Plan to reduce workplace injury, disease and death and have BC become the safest jurisdiction in Canada for workers.
Now, therefore, the Minister directs that a review of the workers’ compensation system be undertaken as follows:
- Subject to further direction from the Minister of Labour, the review will assess the following specific issues:
- The policy and practices used in the workers’ compensation system relating to supporting injured workers return to work.
- An evaluation of current WorkSafeBC policy and practices through a Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) lens.
- Modernizing WorkSafeBC’s culture to reflect a worker-centric service delivery model. This model should incorporate a best practices, research-supported approach to managing physical and mental injuries caused by the workplace.
- Recommendations dealing with issues related to the improved case management of injured workers.
- What specific steps are required to increase confidence of workers and employers in the workers’ compensation system, including but not limited to the Fair Practices Office, and in the other services provided by WorkSafeBC.
- Whether there are any other urgent compensation issues that were not addressed in the final report to the Board of Directors of WorkSafeBC on how to manage the unappropriated balance in the Accident Fund.
- A report will be provided to the Minister by September 1, 2019 and may include recommendations for amendments to the Act.
- The review will be undertaken by an individual (Janet Patterson) with expertise in the workers’ compensation system, who is appointed by the Minister and who will approach the review in an independent, impartial, and balanced manner.
- The funding for the review, including the reviewer’s compensation, will come from WorkSafeBC and will be administered by the Minister of Labour. WorkSafeBC will provide administrative and research support to the review.
- The reviewer will determine their own procedures, including the format for reporting out to the Minister and communications with stakeholders. It is expected that the review will engage in consultations with and receive submissions from interested employer and union/worker stakeholders from all regions of the province, including hearing from injured workers who choose to come forward to the reviewer. The reviewer will work with the Ministry to design the stakeholder consultation process.
- The reviewer will provide a draft of the final report to the Minister of Labour to review and provide input on prior to finalizing the report. The Minister of Labour will make the final report public after a reasonable period of time to review and consider it.
Given under my hand this 4th day of March, 2019.
Honourable Harry Bains, Minister of Labour