B.C. decision to siphon WCB surplus a short-sighted strategy that could endanger workers

“If there is a surplus in this fund, it should be used for prevention programs, training, and stronger and more regular enforcement.” — Stephanie Smith, President BCGEU 

Vancouver (12 April 2017) — The B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU/NUPGE) is disappointed by the short-sighted and dangerous decision by the B.C. government to siphon the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) Accident Fund and gift it to wealthy business owners.

Surplus should return to programs, be used for training and enforcing WCB regulations

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/NUPGE. “If there is a surplus in this fund, it should be used for prevention programs, training, and stronger and more regular enforcement.”

B.C. government cuts to benefits and services have harmed workers 

Since 2002, changes in the Workers Compensation Act and government cuts have led to the erosion of benefits for workers.  In 2002, the B.C. Liberal government virtually eliminated Loss of Earnings pensions to injured workers, which acted had 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
  • Reduction in compensation for psychological and chronic pain injuries
  • Reductions in the way a worker’s wage rate is calculated
  • Budget cuts that led to a 30 per cent reduction in worksite visits by prevention officers

As the Workers Compensation Act reaches its 100th birthday, the B.C. 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.

More information: 

B.C. Government announcement

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The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. ~ NUPGE