Upcoming Union Education


Sarah O'Leary & Rolf Harrison

Friday, May 31, 2019

10 AM - 3 PM

Firefighters Conference Centre, Burnaby, BC

This course will offer guidance on how to do a Workers' Compensation appeal from filing of the appeal through to doing a written submission and presentation at an oral hearing. We will cover appeals to the Review Division and the next level, the Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT). The course is aimed at those who have some familiarity with the Workers' Compensation system.

Advocates are welcome to share their experiences in this area. Lunch will be included. Please let us know if you have any special dietary restrictions.

This course will count as CPD credits with the Law Society of BC.

Further details and registration:


B.C.’s workers’ compensation system under review

BC Government Bulletin:

April 3, 2019

To increase the confidence of workers and employers, the British Columbia government will undertake a formal review of its workers’ compensation system with the appointment of retired labour lawyer Janet Patterson.

To shift the workers’ compensation system to become more worker centred, the review will assess:

  • the system’s policies and practices that support injured workers’ return to work;

  • WorkSafeBC’s current policies and practices through a gender- and diversity-based analysis (commonly referred to as GBA+);

  • modernization of WorkSafeBC’s culture to reflect a worker-centric service delivery model;

  • the case management of injured workers; and

  • any potential amendments to the Workers Compensation Act arising from this focused review.

There will be a public engagement process to ensure that Patterson’s review is informed by feedback from employers, labour organizations and injured workers.

The review will consider any steps that may be required to increase the confidence of workers and employers in the system, and whether there are any other improvements that could be made.

A report, including possible recommendations, will be delivered to government by Sept. 30, 2019.

Read more→

Occupational Hearing Loss - Claims & Appeals

Course Materials - Occupational Hearing Loss→

April 2019 Advocacy Workshop

Iain Macdonald, BCGEU

Rolf Harrison

This workshop will focus on occupational noise-induced hearing loss claims. We will look at the nature of neurosensory hearing loss. We will have an overview of the Board's policies and practices, how the Board measures noise exposure by occupation, and the Board's views on the causes and features of noise-induced hearing loss. We will explore strategies for assisting workers whose claims have been denied--options for proving hazardous exposure and for challenging the Board's views on causation. We will discuss areas where the Board's audiological advisors and independent experts appear to disagree on the science, and will review some helpful appeal cases.

We will also address the scope of benefits available to workers whose claims have been accepted, even if no pension is payable.

This course will count as CPD credits with the Law Society of BC.

WCB Pensions

Course Materials - WCB Pensions→

June 2018 WCB Advocacy Workshop

Presenter: Sarah O’Leary

This course will look at the law and policy covering WCB pensions, from plateau to determination of restrictions and limitations, from PFIs to assessment for loss of earnings. We will also cover appealing a pension decision, whether it be the amount of the PFI, loss of earnings assessments or whether the pension should be extended beyond age 65. We will review some of the important cases that have been made by WCAT and the courts. 

Read more →

Now is the Time to Remember what the Liberals did to WCB

March 2018 post

Now that we have an NDP government, our hopes are up that we will see some movement to a fairer system for injured workers. We witnessed the significant changes made by the NDP in the 1990’s. Then, were devastated to watch what the Liberals did to injured workers from 2001 on. With the exception of adding important cancer presumptions for firefighters (the result of effective lobbying by the IAFF), everything else was aimed at reducing costs, leaving injured workers worse off then ever.

It seems like a good time to cast an eye back over the dismantling of the compensation system over the last 17 years, to remind us just how bad the system is and why we need to pressure the NDP to undo the misery and heartlessness of the last two decades.

Read More →

Duty to Accommodate and the WCB

Course Materials - Duty to Accommodate and the WCB →

November 2017 WCB Advocacy Workshop

Presenters: Sarah O’Leary & Janet Patterson

The duty to accommodate applies to both employers and unions; both have to work towards providing an accommodation for an injured worker to allow him or her to continue to be a productive member of the workplace. What many WCB advocates don't realize is that, unlike Ontario, the duty to accommodate in BC is not found under the Workers' Compensation Act but under the Human Rights Code.

In this workshop we will discuss what obligations unions and employers have to injured workers, how to get the WCB involved, and what your obligations are when there is a conflict between collective agreement rights and the duty to accommodate.

Read more →

Occupational Disease: Schedule B Exposures

Course Materials - Occupational Disease: Schedule B Exposures →

November 2017 WCB Advocacy Workshop

Presenters: Janet Patterson & Iain Macdonald with Judith Lee

This workshop will focus on those occupational diseases (OD) identified in Schedule B, with the exception of ASTDs. There will be an overview of the scope of Schedule B and the building blocks for OD cases in general (diagnosis, exposure, causation, disability). We will then focus on particular issues which arise in two types of cases: respiratory diseases (asthma, asbestosis, etc.) There will also be a discussion of survivor benefits.

Read more →

Early Return to Work & Accommodation

Early RTW & D2A - Course Materials

WCB Advocacy Workshop - June 2015

Facilitators: Sarah O’Leary & Rolf Harrison

This workshop will look at what a worker should do when their employer’s offers light duties, what to do if the light duty offer is unsuitable, what the WCB should be doing, and if you end up having getting benefits denied, some strategies for appeal.

We will also look at accommodation, privacy rights and how much medical information the employer is or isn’t entitled to upon returning to work.

Read more→

Bullying and Harassment and Other Significant Stressors

Workers’ compensation paper - 2016 →

Prepared by Rolf Harrison & Niki Schnurr

The purpose of these materials is to share some notable comments from recent review and appeal decisions. The focus is on some of the recurring problems workers run into in initial claims adjudication.

Read more →

Hurt Your Back at Work? Here’s What You Should Know

Many of the appeals we do concern back injuries that either:

  1. Aren’t accepted as arising from the work accident or work activity;
  2. Were accepted for a strain/sprain and the WCB has told the worker that it has resolved, when it has not; or
  3. Is diagnosed as a strain/sprain when it is really something more.

These situations can be complex and very confusing but it is important to act quickly to deal with them as an unappealed decision letter can mean that you will have a tough time getting anything accepted in future.

I Will Never Get Injured on the Job, or Have to Deal With the WCB

If you believe that, well, good luck to you. We hope you never will. Nobody plans to get hurt at work: to have an accident, stumble while carrying equipment, get exposed to toxic gasses or suffer a psychological trauma that scars you for the rest of your life. But if you do have the misfortune to be hurt on the job or develop an occupational disease, you WILL have to deal with the WCB (aka WorkSafeBC although they have never legally changed their name.)

Psychological Injuries on the Job: Will You Qualify For Treatment?

Psychological injuries and illness are a leading cause of absences from work in Canada. The most obvious that may come to mind when you think about this is probably post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which is the result of trauma. Most commonly we think of this illness affecting first-responders like firefighters, police, and ambulance paramedics. Certainly these folks pay a heavy price for putting themselves in the way of harm as part of their day-to-day job.

Insult to Injury

Adding Insult to Injury - Changes to the BC Workers’ Compensation System (2002 - 2008): The Impact on Injured Workers

A Summary Report to the BC Federation of Labour - 2009

Prepared by Stan Guenther, Janet Patterson & Sarah O’Leary

In 2002, major changes began to be made to the laws and policies that govern the workers’ compensation system in British Columbia. Those changes were initiated by the Liberal government after an aggressive lobbying effort by employers. The employer lobby advanced the inaccurate view that the system had become economically unsustainable. The resulting changes were based upon no discernable principle other than that of reducing costs for employers. In that regard, the changes were very successful. But these changes have come at a profound cost to workers and to the treatment and benefits that injured workers receive under the compensation system.

Read more →