The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union is disappointed by the short-sighted and dangerous decision by the BC government to siphon the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) Accident Fund and gift it to wealthy business owners.
Hundreds of workers are dying every year due to unsafe working conditions. The WCB Accident Fund was created to prevent accidents, train and educate workers and employers, and compensate workers in case of injury or death. Skimming the surplus in this fund and giving it to employers is a disservice to workers.
“These funds belong to workers.” said Stephanie Smith, President of the BCGEU. “If there is a surplus in this fund, it should be used for prevention programs, training, and stronger and more regular enforcement.”
Since 2002, changes in the Workers Compensation Act and government cuts have led to the erosion of benefits for workers. In 2002 the BC Liberal government virtually eliminated Loss of Earnings pensions to injured workers, which acted as a safety net for workers. By 2007, 96 per cent of injured workers who applied for these pensions were denied
Service cuts to injured workers also include:
- Effective elimination of vocational rehabilitation assistance
- A 13 per cent reduction in compensation rates
- Life-long pensions that now end at 65
- Reduced compensation for psychological and chronic pain injuries
- Reductions in the way a worker’s wage rate is calculated
- Budget cuts that led to 30 per cent reduction in worksite visits by prevention officers
As the Workers Compensation Act reaches its 100th birthday, the BC Government should be re-examining how this Act and the accident fund can be used to prevent worker injuries and deaths. Instead, it is focusing on promising rebates for employers.
BC Government announcement