Last week, the Victoria Residential Builders Association wrote to the province expressing our concern about a new WorkSafeBC proposal to add “communicable viral pathogens, including COVID-19,” to employers’ insurance premiums under the Workers Compensation Act.

 Any major change like this normally requires extensive research and consultation, whereas the WorkSafeBC initiative has been a fast-tracked consultation ending June 12.

This is inappropriate during a pandemic and BC’s continued state-of-emergency while businesses struggle just to open doors.

In a letter to WorkSafeBC, the Employers Health and Safety Association of BC outlines their reasons for also opposing WorkSafeBC’s proposal. They say:

“Shifting public health costs onto employers through WorkSafeBC premiums has no basis in science and is a betrayal of historic agreement. If COVID-19 were added it would be the first and only element of Schedule 1 that places public health costs squarely onto employer payrolls. Embedding public health costs in WorkSafeBC premiums could be ruinous for businesses who are unable to absorb any further fixed or variable cost increases because of the ongoing fallout from COVID-19 and could undermine the long-term financial stability of WSBC.”

In addition to VRBA’s letter to the provincial govt, we expressed our opposition to the proposal in last week’s presentation to BC’s Select Standing Committee on Finance and Govt Services.

The province is exploring ways to assist business and employment as we emerge from the pandemic but adding costs to employers only slows the recovery.

We trust this poorly conceived initiative will be scrapped and we can return to restoring BC’s economy and jobs.

This column appears Wednesdays in the Times Colonist.

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