Further to our previous article on the BC Government’s introduction of Bill 41, the Workers Compensation Amendment Act (No. 2), 2022, BC employers should be aware that Bill 41 has passed third reading, and received Royal Assent on November 24, 2022.
There were no substantive changes to the contents of Bill 41 between its first and third readings.
While some provisions of the Bill took effect as of the date of Royal Assent, such as those involving the indexation of workers’ compensation benefits to the Canadian Consumer Price Index, and those related to claim suppression, other provisions will come into effect in early 2023 and at future dates to be determined.
For example, the provisions with respect to the expansion of access to Independent Health Professionals during Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal proceedings will come into effect on April 3, 2023. On May 1, 2023, the provisions regarding the establishment of a Fair Practices Commissioner for complaints involving WorkSafeBC will take effect.
Perhaps the most contentious provisions of Bill 41 with respect to the establishment of specific legal obligations for employers to return injured workers to work, including a duty to cooperate and to maintain employment, as well as the corresponding administrative penalty provisions, will come into effect at an undetermined date by Regulation, once WorkSafeBC has fully engaged in consultations with stakeholders, including the employer community.
Bill 41 continues to serve as a particular source of concern to employers, and the remaining consultation process will be of vital importance to ensure an effective and realistic application of the Bill within BC’s workers’ compensation system.