In late April, WorkSafeBC’s Board of Directors directed the Policy, Regulation and Research Division to add COVID-19 (or potentially more broadly, coronaviruses or respiratory communicable diseases) to the list of diseases in Schedule 1 of the Workers Compensation Act on an expedited process. The primary significance of Schedule 1 is that COVID-19 claims will be presumed to be caused from work, unless proven otherwise. Generally, the process to add a disease to Schedule 1 can take between 18-24 months. However, WorkSafe BC anticipates the expedited process will take about six months.
The Policy, Regulation and Research Division initiated an abbreviated consultation with external stakeholders in recognition of the importance of having the presumption in place as soon as possible. To that end, REVP Jamey Mills has written a letter to WorkSafe BC's Policy, Regulation & Research Division in support of the BC Federation of Labour's call to revise Schedule 1 of the Workers Compensation Act to include COVID-19 and potential future infectious diseases as presumptive work-related disease. Workers who come down with the coronavirus and file a WCB claim should not have to jump through unnecessary hoops to prove their illness was work-related.
A copy of the letter is available for download below.