Consequential Policy Amendments to Implement the Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2020 (Bill 23)

September 2, 2020 | News

On August 14, the Workers Compensation Amendment Act, 2020 (Bill 23) came into effect. Under Bill 23, there were 34 legislative amendments made to the Workers Compensation Act (Act). Thirty-two of the legislative amendments became effective immediately, with two amendments coming into effect on January 1, 2021.

At issue are proposed changes to policy in the Prevention Manual, Rehabilitation Services & Claims Manual (Volume II), and Assessment Manual, to ensure the policies are consistent with the 32 amendments to the Act that are now in effect. The purpose of the proposed policy amendments is to ensure that WorkSafeBC policy is consistent with the Act, as amended by Bill 23.

Of the 32 amendments currently in effect the following result in amendments to policies:

Occupational Health and Safety

In the Occupational Health and Safety provisions of the Act, WorkSafeBC approval is no longer required before an officer may lay an information in respect of an offence. The proposed policy amendments remove language assigning prosecution approvals to the President/CEO.

Workers’ Compensation Benefits

In relation to workers’ compensation benefits, the following result in amendments to policies:

  • WorkSafeBC is authorized to reconsider a claims decision after 75 days have elapsed, if the decision contains an obvious error or omission.
  • Clarification that compensation is payable as if a mental disorder were a personal injury. This change mirrors existing language regarding compensation payable for an occupational disease.
  • The one-year limitation period for filing an application for compensation for a mental disorder commences on the date of mental disorder. Prior to Bill 23, reference was only made to personal injuries or occupational disease.
  • Preventative health care – WorkSafeBC is authorized to pay for healthcare-related services and supplies before a worker’s claim has been accepted.
  • Maximum Wage Rate – Effective January 1, 2021, the maximum wage rate for injured workers is increased to $100,000.

Review Division Powers

Decisions, whether to reopen a matter due to a recurrence of an injury or significant change in a worker’s compensable medical condition, can now be reviewed by the Review Division.

Collecting Unpaid Assessments

The policy currently provides guidance on contractor liability and collecting assessments that are not voluntarily paid. Bill 23 added a new provision to the Act making corporate directors liable for amounts their corporations owe to WorkSafeBC, in certain situations.

Stakeholder Feedback Requested

To implement the changes described above, WorkSafeBC must bring its policies in line with the legislation. WorkSafeBC is looking for feedback on draft amendments to policy in the Prevention Manual, Volume II of the Rehabilitation Services & Claims Manual, and Assessment Manual that reflect the amended legislation in each of the areas highlighted above.

Stakeholders are invited to provide feedback on the discussion paper and draft policies, and any additional comments that may be relevant to the issue.

There are several ways for stakeholders to provide feedback.  Online comments, e-mail and mail-in options can be found here.

Feedback will be accepted until September 15, 2020.