Media Contacts

Ministry of Labour

Media Relations
250 213-8637


Workers Compensation Act amendments

The following amendments to the WCA have been introduced through Bill 41:

Fair practices commissioner (FPC)

Establish authority for a FPC with a reporting structure that will enhance independence from the rest of WorkSafeBC.

The FPC will be appointed directly by WorkSafeBC’s board of directors to investigate complaints by workers and employers of alleged unfairness in dealings with WorkSafeBC, including systemic issues. The commissioner will be able to make recommendations for resolving these complaints and will issue an annual report to the board of directors. The commissioner will not review the merits of individual WorkSafeBC decisions, for which there is an existing review and appeal process. 

Establishing a more independent FPC with specific authorities laid out in the legislation will help ensure complaints are addressed in a fair, impartial and respectful manner.

Legal duty for employers to return injured workers to work

Establish a clear employer duty to re-employ injured workers and to accommodate returning workers short of undue hardship.

The amendment also requires employers and workers to co-operate with each other and with WorkSafeBC to support the return of the worker to their pre-injury employment or, where this is not possible, to other suitable work. Better return-to-work outcomes for workers support more productive workplaces and can, ultimately, lower workers’ compensation costs for employers.

Independent health professionals (IHP)

Expand access to IHPs by allowing them to be requested as part of an appeal to the external Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT), after the avenues to address medical disputes at WorkSafeBC and its internal review division have been pursued.  

Currently, workers and employers do not have the explicit right to request an IHP at WCAT if there is a medical dispute on a worker’s appeal.

Interest on delayed benefit payments

Require interest to be paid on compensation benefits that are determined by a WorkSafeBC review officer or WCAT to be owing to a person for 180 or more days. Currently, interest on delayed compensation must be paid only in very narrow circumstances. Interest payable must be calculated in accordance with policies set by WorkSafeBC.

Interest provides a measure of compensation to workers and their families for the opportunity costs of benefits that should have been paid when the worker first became eligible. A worker and their family may have greater need for income to pay off debt or other costs while awaiting payment of compensation. The proposed change will require interest to be paid in more situations than is currently the case, while imposing a reasonable minimum time frame of 180 days.

Claim suppression

Claim suppression occurs where an employer acts to discourage a worker from filing a workers’ compensation claim, or to punish them for doing so through dismissal, discipline or other retaliatory action.

The amendment will add explicit provisions against employers dissuading workers from filing a claim for compensation, with enforcement through penalties under the occupational health and safety provisions of the Workers Compensation Act. This provision will help to ensure that work-related injuries are funded out of the workers’ compensation system as intended, rather than result in workers seeking treatment from the public health system at a cost to taxpayers. 

Indexing benefits to full CPI

Restore indexing of workers’ compensation benefits to the full rate of annual percentage changes in the Canadian Consumer Price Index (CPI). WorkSafeBC will have the discretion to approve annual indexation above 4%, if the percentage change in the CPI exceeds that amount.

Since 2002, cost-of-living increases for benefits have been indexed to the rate of annual changes in the CPI, minus one percentage point, to a maximum of 4%. Limiting cost-of-living increases is unfair to workers and erodes the value and purchasing power of benefits over time.

Increasing the maximum compensation for non-traumatic hearing loss

Compensation for non-traumatic hearing loss is currently capped at 15% of a total disability when there is no loss of earnings, and there is no cap for traumatic hearing loss. The proposed improvement would amend the Act to enable WorkSafeBC to set a higher cap consistent with the evolving science.

WorkSafeBC premiums

Most employers, including public-sector employers, fund the workers’ compensation system through payroll assessments levied by WorkSafeBC.

Employer assessment rates vary by industry and industry sectors, and depend on the health and safety risks and accident rates within the industry or sector.

WorkSafeBC also considers what its investment returns are and how much it will cost to uphold its prevention, compensation and service-delivery mandates.

Premium rates for individual employers vary depending on an employer’s safety record. As costs change, so do rates. Each year, some rates go up, some go down, and some stay the same.

The average premium rate has been stable at $1.55 per $100 payroll for the past five years, below the current average cost rate of $1.76. WorkSafeBC’s accident fund subsidizes the difference between the premium rate and the average cost rate.

The average premium rate will remain unchanged in 2023. Future increases from the legislative amendments will depend on many factors, including those described above, as well as WorkSafeBC Board decisions on subsidization rates from the accident fund.

For more information, visit:

Workers’ Compensation system – background, reports and changes

B.C.’s workers’ compensation system provides no-fault compensation benefits to workers and their surviving dependants for work-related injuries, diseases, mental-health disorders and fatalities.

The system, in place since 1917, is based on the so-called “historic compromise,” whereby employers fund the compensation for workers and survivors and, in return, avoid litigation over workplace incidents.

While workers should be placed at the centre of the compensation system, it must also be affordable for employers. Maintaining an appropriate balance is important to ensure that both workers and employers have confidence in the system.

Over the years, periodic reviews of the system have been undertaken to ensure that it continues to reflect worker and employer interests and is keeping pace with other Canadian jurisdictions. These reviews have often resulted in amendments to the act and/or the policies and practices of WorkSafeBC. Prior to 2017, the most recent review was in 2002.

Since 2017, several significant reviews of B.C.’s workers’ compensation system have been carried out, including:

  • Petrie – in 2018, consultant Paul Petrie was engaged by WorkSafeBC to review its polices and issued a report, Restoring the Balance: A Worker-Centred Approach to Workers' Compensation Policy.
  • Bogyo – in 2018, consultant Terry Bogyo was engaged by WorkSafeBC and issued a report, Balance. Stability. Improvement: Options for the Accident Fund.
  • Helps – in 2019, lawyer Lisa Jean Helps was engaged by the attorney general and issued a report, WorkSafeBC and Government Action Review: Crossing the Rubicon, which reviewed actions taken by the government and WorkSafeBC in response to coroner recommendations following the 2012 sawmill explosions at Babine Forest Products and Lakeland Mills.
  • Parr – in 2020, Jeff Parr, a former deputy minister in multiple provincial governments (and current chair of the board of WorkSafeBC), issued a report, Consultation Report on Potential Amendments to the British Columbia Workers Compensation Act, in response to a request by the minister of labour to consult with business and labour leaders on the Petrie, Bogyo, and Helps reports and recommend appropriate legislative amendments. 
  • Patterson – in 2019, retired labour lawyer Janet Patterson was commissioned by government to undertake an independent review of the workers’ compensation system. Patterson’s report, New Directions: Report of the WCB Review 2019, was publicly released in 2020 and made 102 recommendations proposing a broad set of legislative, policy and operational changes.

During the same period, legislative changes were made to the act, including:

  • Bill 9 (2018) – added a presumption that facilitates access to workers’ compensation benefits for first responders who experience work-related trauma resulting in a diagnosed mental-health injury/disorder.
  • Bill 18 (2019) – expanded the definition of firefighters eligible for the three workers’ compensation presumptions (certain cancers, heart disease and heart injury, and mental-health disorders), including firefighters working for Indigenous organizations.
  • Bill 23 (2020) – addressed recommendations made by Helps and Parr, as well as made amendments to the act coincidentally recommended by Patterson, that improved key areas directly affecting injured workers, including:
    • fast-tracking access to health treatments for injured workers;
    • improving how benefits are calculated to better support claimants financially;
    • strengthening WorkSafeBC’s powers for workplace safety investigations; and
    • allowing injured workers and family members of deceased workers to make victim-impact statements in court proceedings.

In addition to the above legislative changes, WorkSafeBC has made a number of policy, practice and program changes to improve its services, many in response to recommendations made by Petrie and Helps. It has also made significant progress on implementing the approximately 60 recommendations related to policy and operational changes made by Patterson.