WorkSafeBC proposes adding presumptive claims for COVID-19 illness

Vancouver Sun | Rob Shaw | June 12, 2020

VICTORIA — B.C. workers who get COVID-19 could soon have a much easier time obtaining compensation from WorkSafeBC, under proposed new changes that are being praised by organized labour but slammed by business leaders.

The agency, which handles workplace safety and insurance claims, wants to add COVID-19 to its list of presumptive occupational diseases, similar to such things as lead poisoning, asbestos illnesses and lung cancer.

The change would mean people no longer have to prove they contracted COVID-19 on a work site to make a claim for compensation of up to 90 per cent of their salary while ill. Instead, it would be presumed the virus came from the work site unless an employer can prove otherwise.

The move is supported by the B.C. Federation of Labour, a longtime ally of the current NDP government.

But a group of more than 70 employers, representing major public and private organizations ranging from the City of Vancouver to Save-On-Foods, TransLink and Vancouver Coastal Health, oppose the idea, saying it will increase employer premiums and unfairly download the cost of a public health crisis onto businesses.

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