VANCOUVER – Christy Clark’s plan to take millions of dollars from the workers’ accident fund and give it to business owners is absurd and wrong, says Shane Simpson, B.C.’s New Democrat spokesperson for labour and jobs.
“Despite countless injured workers around B.C. facing roadblocks while trying to receive fair compensation from WorkSafeBC for workplace injuries, Christy Clark decided business owners and B.C. Liberal donors deserve to be taken care of first, and she’ll work quickly to hand over millions meant for workers’ injury claims,” said Simpson.
“Those are backward priorities. Christy Clark isn’t there for injured workers or people who have dangerous or high-risk jobs, but she’s there for top donors and corporations. There isn’t enough being done to protect workers right now in B.C., and workers and their families are often finding it difficult to receive fair compensation for tragic accidents on the job,” said Simpson.
Simpson said this government raid of injured workers’ funds is similar to how Christy Clark takes money from ICBC and BC Hydro despite increasing rates year after year for B.C. families. The only difference here, Simpson said, is that Christy Clark is giving the money directly to her corporate friends.
Under the B.C. Liberals, WorkSafeBC made major cuts to its staff and services. In 2002, while Christy Clark was the deputy premier, WorkSafeBC’s budget was reduced by 12 per cent, a move that resulted in offices closures and a 30 per cent reduction in site visits by prevention officers. Since then, WorkSafeBC has drastically reduced inspection reports, written orders and employer penalties.
In 2002, the Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals also made changes to workers compensation that eliminated virtually all loss of earnings pensions for permanently injured or ill workers. As a result, the annual number of loss-of-earnings pensions awarded has dropped significantly. They also reduced the amount of compensation paid to workers, and set employer premium rates at the lowest in 30 years.
“The Clark government should be fixing those gaps, and restoring cuts she has made to WorkSafeBC, not giving yet another handout to donors and corporations,” said Simpson.