Shop Steward to Viticulturist If you worked with Todd Gates sometime during his 20-year career…
The BC Federation of Labour (BCFed) has been supporting and driving forward the “Workers Deserve Better” campaign on behalf of all workers in the province for some time. In fact, since the historic amendments made to the Workers Compensation Act in 2002 when wage rates were reduced (formula change from 90% of net to 75% of gross income) and pension changes were made that meant almost all pensions ended at 65 suddenly as a loss of earnings pension was all but impossible to get, the BC Federation of Labour has been championing worker’s rights around WCB.
Studies of the WCB have been done, including Janet Patterson’s comprehensive report (see link below) that involved her interviewing over 2000 people including workers, public, employers and even our own members about barriers and improvements that can and need to be made to improve the system. We have seen some policy direction in the last couple years that has started to a reflect more balanced approach in practice but the BC Federation of Labour, of which we are an active part, has asked for specific measures to improve the WCB system for workers, including:
- creating a Fair Practices Commission independent of the WCB to deal with complaints and implement solutions
- removing binding policy provisions so decisions can be made on the merits of each case
- ensuring an equal balance of worker and employer representatives on the WCB Board of Directors
- mandating vocational rehabilitation to get workers back to real and sustainable jobs
- ending discriminatory barriers to compensation for psychological injury and chronic pain
- paying interest to workers when the WCB wrongly denies them benefits, resulting in a lengthy delay
- ensuring the WCB makes the changes set out in the Patterson report to create a worker-centered approach
Signals from the government indicate changes are coming to the WCB and The BC Federation of Labour, who represents more than 500,000 workers in BC, wants to make sure that this time around workers are considered in the new legislation, that this time it will not just primarily benefit employers.
The campaign video was shown at a conference this past weekend and we had some questions from CEU members like, “Does this put us in an awkward position as CEU members and WCB employees?” or even “are they attacking me or my work?”
It is very important that we are clear that this campaign is about the WCB system and restoring balance based on comprehensive reports that have been done and not about the workers (us) at the WCB. We are governed by the legislation and policies associated with the Workers Compensation Act and are required to work within that framework. You are working as trained and instructed, what this campaign talks about is rebalancing the legislative framework.
You will see in the video associated with this campaign that the BC Federation of Labour firmly puts this responsibility in government’s hands to fix. They alone have the capability to make legislative changes that reflect a more balanced system. Again – this campaign is not directed at our members.
I have also personally brought the messaging forward at the BC Federation of Labour that we are dealing with workload in many areas of the board so we also have worries about who will do the extra work that may come with improvements/changes. After hearing us on this issue, the BC Federation now adds a blurb to their press releases involving the WCB system that says,
“We strongly encourage the WCB Board of Directors to seriously consider our recommendations and urge the WCB to allocate resources and efforts to ensuring the effective implementation of the changes.”
The thing we must remember as CEU members is that there are real stories out there of examples of where the WCB system failed them, and experts agree some changes need to be made. As CEU members we also want the best WCB system possible, so that it will continue to serve workers and employers well into our future.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. We want you to be aware of all the information, so you are not caught off guard if you hear anything about this campaign.
- To view the video copy and paste this link into your browser: https://www.workersdeservebetter.ca/
- Report of the Workers’ Compensation System Review led by Janet Patterson
- Injured Workers Deserve Better, the BCFed’s recommendations for WCB changes
Laura Snow (she, her, hers)