(Minister of Labour Harry Bains/BC Gov Flickr)

The B.C. Ministry of Labour has introduced proposed amendments to the Workers Compensation Act which they say will support workers better during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

These changes include allowing WorkSafeBC to provide preventative medical treatment before a claim is accepted, and raising the maximum annual salary amount on which workers’ compensation benefits are based to $100,000.

Other proposed changes include giving powers to the court to issue WorkSafeBC search and seizure warrants to investigate workplace safety infractions, and using victim impact statements during serious workplace prosecutions and trials.

“For too many years, we have heard from injured workers in B.C. that the system lacks fairness and doesn’t work for them or support them through their injuries,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour, in a statement.

“Today’s changes are an important step in modernizing the Workers Compensation Act, ensuring workers and their families get the support they need, while also increasing everyone’s confidence in the system.”

This legislation will fast-track the effective date of presumptions if established by WorkSafeBC’s board of directors for occupational diseases caused by viral pathogens, which will then simplify the claims process for anyone who contracts COVID-19 on the job.

At the moment, 44,000 injured workers currently receiving permanent disability benefits because of a work-related injury, according to the ministry.