The government of British Columbia intends to amend the Workers Compensation Act to establish a new policy requiring WorkSafeBC to return funds to employers when it has a surplus of contributions from employers in the accident fund.
The Workers Compensation Act gives WorkSafeBC exclusive authority to establish and manage an accident fund to pay for past, current and future claims for workers injured or killed at work. This includes the authority to collect premiums from employers based on their payroll and establish a reserve to fund future liabilities.
“Employers fund the workers’ compensation system in our province and we think their money should be returned to them when the system is over-funded,” said Shirley Bond, minister of jobs, tourism and skills training, and minister responsible for labour. “We will establish in legislation a policy that requires WorkSafeBC to return money to B.C. employers which will particularly benefit small businesses that help drive growth and job creation in our province.”
WorkSafeBC also generates additional income from the investment of the funds it collects from employers. The government does not provide WorkSafeBC any funding.
WorkSafeBC currently has more assets than liabilities in the accident fund as a result of the accumulation of funds. The legislation does not provide explicit direction on how to manage this surplus.
By amending the act, the province will address this gap in legislation to ensure that there is a process to manage the surplus funds collected from employers. The resulting policy will trigger a return of funds to employers when WorkSafeBC’s funding hits a specific target level of assets over liabilities over a period of time. WorkSafeBC will retain the authority to manage the accident.
The amendment will not affect the benefits payable to workers injured or killed at work. The policy work is intended to be complete by June with the ensuing legislative changes being brought into law as early as the next legislative sitting.
The development of the new policy will include what threshold level of assets over liabilities will trigger a return of funds. In addition, there will be consultations with employers about the elements required to establish the policy, including protecting against severe fluctuations in premium rates.
“This is about striking a balance to have the funds needed to help injured workers and their families now and into the future while limiting volatility in premiums that employers have to pay,” said Bond.
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