ICBA joined 20 other employer associations this week in a letter to BC Minister of Labour Harry Bains, outlining the business community’s strong objections to a series of changes the NDP Government is planning for WSBC (as set out in legislation proposed last week in Bill 23).  It is clearly the wrong time to impose more costs, complexity, and confusion on businesses struggling to survive the worst health and economic crisis in 100 years.

Harry Bains

Some of the concerns about Bill 23 raised in the letter:

  • The changes will destabilize WorkSafeBC by adding considerable costs to the workers’ compensation system. Far from being “modest and measured”, core precepts that kept WSBC financially stable over the last two decades are now being unwound.
  • It adds more uncertainty to the Covid-19 recovery and long-term costs to WSBC which is paid by employer premiums. These added costs will impact businesses of all size, and their ability to re-start, re-hire, and consider new investment in the province. Ultimately, additional costs through Bill 23 will harm people from all walks of life who have lost, or are on the brink of losing, their livelihoods.
  • There was no consultation on Bill 23 measures calling into question the sincerity of the NDP Government’s commitment to listen to British Columbians, particularly small, medium and large employers.
  • The Government of Alberta recently “doubled down” on their efforts to restore Alberta’s competitive advantage by reducing its corporate tax rate to 8 percent versus British Columbia’s 12 percent. Instead of “holding the line” on further costs and red tape, the NDP Government is “doubling down” on increasing fixed and variable business costs and adding uncertainty to BC’s investment climate.
  • Bill 23 doesn’t consider the significant challenges that employers face as they struggle to cope with the economic fallout from COVID-19. Our province is not back to “normal”. However, Bill 23 assumes everything is fine with BC’s economy.
  • Bill 23 signals to the WSBC Board of Directors the NDP Government’s support for a COVID-19 (Schedule 1) presumption (ie. if a worker claims to have contracted Covid-19 in the workplace, the claim is automatically accepted) by removing a 90-day waiting period for such a change to come into force. This effectively will make a WSBC COVID-19 presumption immediately applicable once the Board makes a decision.

Read the full letter HERE.

Media coverage of these issues can be found HERE (Les Leyne in the Times Colonist) and HERE (Tom Fletcher for Black Press).