Bill 14 was originally introduced by the government of B.C. to recognize mental health stress resulting from a traumatic incident or prolonged series of incidents in the workplace in keeping with how physical disabilities are recognized, and to elevate the need for proper prevention of workplace stress.

Objective:
Ensure that Bill 14 has checks and balances to prevent trivial claims from being advanced – avoid the law of unintended consequences.

Background:
Bill 14 started out as some minor changes to the way stress is handled, mostly by first responders and other emergency personnel. However, the unintended consequences for mental health in the workplace would have been significant. The original proposed changes would have impacted the jobs plan, provincial budgets, cost control and provincial WorkSafe sustainability.

Outcome:
Earlier this month, the BC government made amendments/improvements to the Workers’ Compensation Amendment Act, 2011 (Bill 14) following consultations with the Coalition of B.C. Businesses, RCC and other business groups who all urged for amendments to be made to mitigate against an adverse impact on the business community in B.C. 

The new resulting amendments in Bill 14 include:

  • Revised wording from “mental stress” to “mental disorder”
  • A requirement for a psychiatrist or psychologist diagnosis, rather than from a physician.
  • A “predominant cause” test for mental disorders caused by significant work-related stressors.

Changes to Bill 14 also introduced a new reference to bullying and harassment as a significant work-related stressor.

RCC supports healthy workplaces and recognizes that mental health issues arising from work are a growing concern for employers and employees. As such, the amendments to Bill 14 provide a reasonable framework to manage and address stress in the workplace. Bill 14 strikes the right balance between protecting workers and providing compensation for mental health claims, while maintaining coverage at a reasonable and manageable level.