Uniting labour in our community

The Liberals are Throwing Injured Workers Under the Bus (Again)

The Liberals are Throwing Injured Workers Under the Bus (Again) – Article by Sarah O’Leary of Rush Crane & Guenther 

You may have heard that Christy Clark has proposed new legislation that promises employers they will receive millions of dollars earmarked for injured workers. http://www.pressreader.com/canada/timescolonist/20170402/281595240376219

The way the compensation system works is that employers pay an assessment per $100 of payroll into an “Accident Fund”. In return for this, workers give up the right to sue their employers but are supposed to be guaranteed benefits if they are injured on the job. Employers like this system; it keeps them safe from multimillion dollar lawsuits for negligent operation or dangerous workplaces.

After the Liberals came to power in 2001, they immediately attacked the Workers Compensation system. They took away many rights for injured workers and saved the employers hundreds of millions of dollars by reducing injured worker benefits. They even renamed it WorkSafeBC (rather than SafeworkBC) to shift the emphasis for safety to workers and away from employers.

Just a few of the changes that Christy Clark and the Liberals made:
 No more pensions for life, just to age 65.
 Benefits changed from 75% of gross to 90% of net!
 Those most seriously disabled and living on their WCB pensions had the cost of living increase limited to 1% BELOW the cost of living and never more than 4% no matter how high inflation goes.
 Canada Pension Plan-Disability is now clawed back by 50%
 Loss of earnings pensions were made very difficult to get, again for those who are so disabled by injury or occupational disease that they have to live on their WCB pensions, and a loss of income of 25% or less is deemed too insignificant to compensate!

Under the Liberals they even made a policy that employers who won their appeals would get interest on their awards but injured workers who had been living in poverty for years while they fought their appeals would get no interest at all when they finally won!

Now they have done it again. In blatant pandering to the business community Christy Clark and the Liberals have promised that if re-elected they will give even more to employers. The WCB has created surpluses by denying benefits to workers and reducing the benefits that they do get even if accepted. Now there is no room improving those benefits.

Stan Guenther of our office put it this way in a recent povnet post:
The WCB can manage the Accident Fund, including any surplus, in a way that might directly benefit injured workers, i.e. by easing some of the more draconian policies, by paying interest on retroactive entitlements, etc. etc. However, since 2002, the goal has been to ease the burden on employers, a goal well-achieved by the WCB. By forcing the WCB to refund surplus to employers, that power to revise policy to the benefit of injured workers will be limited, and in that regard, clearly the amendment will affect the benefits payable to injured workers. Again.

In 1986 the Socred government of Bill Bennett made a one-time payout to the employers of $99 million from the Accident Fund. There was such a huge uproar from the Labour Community and the NDP that the premier had to set up a Commission of Enquiry about the WCB. The result of this commission was a complete restructuring of the WCB so that it was fairer to workers.

Now they are proposing not a “one-time” payback, but a payback every year! We should all be screaming bloody murder about this outrageous transfer of wealth from workers to employers as a result of whittling down the compensation system.

We all need to remember this: only a change in provincial government will carry with it the possibility of the broad and significant steps required to protect injured workers.

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