Dozens of business associations step back from WorkSafeBC review

Organizations say they have lost confidence that the review can be conducted in an 'independent, impartial and balanced matter.'

Dozens of business associations representing hundreds of businesses in B.C. are declining to participate further in a WorkSafeBC review they claim raises an apprehension of bias.

In a letter to reviewer Janet Patterson and elected government officials, 46 organizations say they have lost confidence that the review can be conducted in an “independent, impartial and balanced matter.”

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They cite the fact that Patterson, a retired labour lawyer was tasked with the review by the province, was one of three co-authors of a 2009 report that offered 24 recommendations for correcting a “systemic attack” on the benefits and decision-making process of B.C.’s workers’ compensation system. All recommendations but one were added this August as issues to be explored under the current review of WorkSafeBC.

Signatories to the letter published Thursday — which include the BC Chamber of Commerce, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and Mining Association of BC — say they were “quite taken aback and dismayed” by what they see as an expansion of the review’s original scope.

In April, the B.C. government announced a formal review of the province's workers' compensation system. It was to include an assessment of the policies and practices around getting injured workers back on the job, the case management of injured workers and potential amendments to the Workers Compensation Act.

Members of B.C.’s employer community, which funds the province’s workers’ compensation system, met with Patterson weeks after the review was announced.

They have declined to participate in Patterson’s further consultation regarding the recommendations from the 2009 report she co-authored.

Patterson’s report is expected on Sept. 30.

hwoodin@biv.com

@hayleywoodin

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