|2002/03 Annual Service
Ministry of Skills Development and Labour
2002/03 annual report outlines the continued efforts by the Ministry
of Skills Development and Labour to create balanced, fair laws that
protect workers and stimulate the economy. Government made further
progress in fulfilling the commitments outlined in the New Era
These new laws were developed after extensive reviews of the problems
and, following a good deal of input from interested groups, provided
solutions that benefit British Columbia employers and employees,
union members and injured workers.
The Employment Standards Amendment Act was introduced to
protect vulnerable employees, simplify workplace rules and revitalize
the economy by recognizing the needs of modern workplaces. For the
first time, mandatory penalties that can reach $10,000 have been
put in place and target those who break these rules. Averaging agreements
allow for more flexible workplaces and the introduction of a self-help
kit provides a step-by-step review to allow employees and employers
to resolve problems in the workplace first. If the parties cannot
resolve the problem, the Employment Standards Branch is available
as the second step.
Government also focused on helping employees in the restaurant
industry. The Ministry and the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services
Association signed a memorandum of understanding that provides for
an employment standards officer to work with the association to
ensure employees and employers know and follow the employment standards
rules. Further MOUs will be developed with groups in other sectors
in an effort to promote compliance with employment standards rules.
Workers' Compensation changes were made to ensure the system is
sustainable in the future and to provide a more timely appeals process.
In the past, three levels of appeals of WCB decisions took an average
three years to complete and could last as long as seven. Those who
have gone through WCB appeals demanded a better process. Now, with
strict time limits in place and a two-level process, appeals can
be completed in about half that time. In addition, an independent
Workers' Compensation Appeal Tribunal has been established as the
final level of appeal. In order to continue to be responsive to
the needs of injured workers, a newly appointed, seven-member board
of directors was named to review, restructure and rebuild the Workers'
Labour code changes have provided a framework for labour and management
to build modern, healthy and competitive workplaces. The Labour
Relation Board and others must now interpret and apply the code
in keeping with its stated principles. These include recognizing
the rights and obligations of employers, employees and unions, and
fostering employment in economically viable businesses. The right
to communicate in union certification/decertification matters has
also been restored. In addition a Section 3 committee was appointed
to review 14 key issues of interest to both employers and unions.
This committee gathered input and submitted a report on April
11, 2003 that provides government with a better understanding of
today's labour relations challenges.
This government will continue to work to return British Columbia
to its former status as one of the best places in Canada to live,
work and do business.
Honourable Graham P. Bruce