Background

The British Columbia government is looking to shift the existing workers’ compensation system (WorkSafeBC) to better support injured workers and to increase the confidence of workers and employers in the system.

An independent review is underway to advise government on how to shift the workers’ compensation system to become more “worker-centered.” The review is being led by retired labour lawyer Janet Patterson, who was appointed in March 2019.

The review will assess:

  • the system’s policies and practices that support injured workers’ return to work;
  • WorkSafeBC’s current policies and practices through a gender- and diversity-based analysis (commonly referred to as GBA +);
  • modernization of WorkSafeBC’s culture to reflect a worker-centric service delivery model;
  • the case management of injured workers; and
  • any potential amendments to the Workers Compensation Act arising from this focused review.

Ms. Patterson’s report to government is due by Sept. 1, 2019.

Issue

UPDATE: The 46 employer community partners, which includes VRCA,  has lost confidence in the Patterson Review after it was learned that the “selected issues” identified by the Reviewer for further consultation with key stakeholders encompass 23 of the 24 recommendations set out in a report commissioned by the BC Federation of Labour in 2009 entitled “Insult to Injury – Changes to the BC Workers’ Compensation System.” Ms. Patterson co-authored the “Insult to Injury” report.

The list of “selected issues” indicates to the employer community that the Patterson Review is broad and far-reaching and calls into question the Reviewer’s ability to deliver her review in an independent, impartial and balanced manner.

Initially, VRCA and the employer community was concerned that the Terms of Reference of the Review were vague and open to speculation in their interpretation.

We were also concerned that the compressed timeline set for the Review may compromise the ability to have proper examination and full and meaningful consultation with industry stakeholders such as ourselves.

Current Status

UPDATE: The 46 employer community partners formally withdrew from the Patterson Review on Aug. 14 after losing confidence that the review can be conducted in an independent, impartial and balanced manner.

Prior to Aug. 14, the review collected feedback through a variety of methods:

  • Public Hearings – There were 21 in-person and teleconference hearings scheduled in locations around the province from June 14 through July 19, 2019.
  • Online questionnaire – British Columbians were invited to complete an online questionnaire available from late May through July 19, 2019 at 4 p.m.
  • Written submission – The deadline for written submissions was July 19, 2019.

VRCA signed an employer community submission endorsed by 46 sectoral and cross-sectoral business organizations which collectively represent small, medium and large businesses in virtually all aspects of the B.C. economy.

The Council of Construction Associations, of which VRCA is a member, also endorsed the employer community submission.

Status Updates

On Oct. 30, the Employers’ Forum wrote to B.C. Minister of Labour Harry Bains to express concern that it has had minimal input into the three government-commissioned reviews of B.C.’s workers’ compensation system. The 46 business and industry associations that signed the letter urged the minister to provide stakeholders with a structured opportunity for feedback, framed by a consultation paper, before proceeding with any legislative changes. Read the Employers’ Forum letter
  • On Aug. 14, VRCA and 45 other business and industry associations pulled out of the latest review of WorkSafeBC after losing confidence that the review can be conducted in an independent, impartial and balanced manner. Read the news release. Read the employer community’s Aug. 14 letter to Janet Patterson. Read the Employers’ Forum’s Aug. 14 statement on behalf of the 46 employer community partners.
  • On Aug. 2, the Employers’ Forum wrote the WorkSafeBC board on behalf of the 46 employer community partners in response to the July 18 release of the report by Terrance Bogyo. The letter urges the Board of Directors of WorkSafeBC and, by extension, the Government of British Columbia to take the time necessary to engage properly with key communities of interest in BC’s workers’ compensation system before there is any further internal consideration of, or action taken on, Mr. Bogyo’s report. Read the Employers’ Forum letter.
  • On July 30, 2019, VRCA signed an addendum to the employer community submission endorsed by 46 sectoral and cross-sectoral business organizations, that makes several general comments arising from the Bogyo Report that was released on July 18, 2019, and is potentially an input to the Patterson Review.  Read VRCA’s cover letter. Read the addendum to the employer community submission.
  • The Council of Construction Associations, of which VRCA is a member, also responded to the release of the Bogyo Report. Read COCA’s letter.
  • On July 18, VRCA signed an employer community submission endorsed by 46 sectoral and cross-sectoral business organizations which collectively represent small, medium and large businesses in virtually all aspects of the B.C. economy. Read VRCA’s cover letter. Read the employer community submission.
  • The Council of Construction Associations, of which VRCA is a member, also endorsed the employer community submission. Read COCA’s cover letter.

Resources

Government of B.C.’s public engagement page – Worker’s Compensation System Review

Terms of Reference for this review.

Balance. Stability. Improvement. Options for the Accident Fund prepared by Mr. Terrance J. Bogyo.*

Restoring the Balance: A Worker-Centred Approach to Workers’ Compensation Policy by Mr. Paul Petrie.

* The report authored by Terrance J. Bogyo was released to the public on July 19, 2019. The employer community submission was prepared and submitted prior to the release of Mr. Bogyo’s report.