On April 3, 2019, the British Columbia Government announced that it has appointed retired labour lawyer Janet Patterson to undertake a formal review of the workers’ compensation system in this province. The stated goal of the review is to increase the confidence of workers and employers in the system and to shift the workers’ compensation system to become more worker centred.
If a “more worker centred” approach sounds familiar, it is because the Board of Directors of WorkSafeBC gave the same directive to Paul Petrie in early 2018, when it asked him to recommend possible changes to the claims policies set out in the Board’s Rehabilitation Services and Claims Manual, Volume II. Mr. Petrie’s report was submitted March 31, 2018 and some of his recommendations have been adopted into policy.
Ms. Patterson will assess:
- the system’s policies and practices that support injured workers’ return to work;
- WorkSafeBC’s current policies and practices through a gender- and diversity-based analysis;
- modernization of WorkSafeBC’s culture to reflect a worker-centric service delivery model;
- the case management of injured workers; and
- any potential amendments to the Workers Compensation Act arising from this focused review.
Given the breadth of the above points, it is not clear at this time exactly how broad Ms. Patterson’s review will be. Nor is it clear how Ms. Patterson’s review of the system’s policies will relate to Mr. Petrie’s completed recommendations.
As part of Ms. Patterson’s review, the Government has announced there will be a public engagement process to ensure the review is informed by feedback from employers, labour organizations, and injured workers.
The report, including possible recommendations, is due to be delivered to the Government by September 30, 2019.