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Restore disability pensions: MLA

Surrey Leader
By Dan Ferguson

Staff Reporter
Dec 15 2006

Delta North NDP MLA Guy Gentner wants B.C. worker disability pensions to return to their former structure.

Gentner has introduced a private members bill that would undo changes to the Workers Compensation Act by the Liberal government that ended the practice of adjusting disability pensions based on the type of job a worker had.

That’s unfair, Gentner said, because it doesn’t recognize the impact of a disability depends on the type of work being performed.

For example, the loss of a leg can be a career-ender for a tree faller, but not for an office worker, Gentner observed.

Gentner also wants the act amended to restore lifetime pensions for permanently disabled workers, who are now cut off at age 65 and given a lump sum settlement.

Though those changes were made in 2002, Gentner said it’s only in the last year that the full impact has become apparent because of the time it takes to decide worker pensions.

“Most of the cases that walk into my office these days deal with workers’ compensation,” Gentner said.

“The new model is to deny, deny, deny.”

Gentner said the changes were imposed as a money-saving measure because the Workers Compensation Board was facing a substantial deficit.

But now, Gentner said, the deficit has turned into a surplus that should be used to improve worker pension benefits.

Labour and Citizens’ Services Minister Olga Ilich declined a Leader telephone request for comment, but a spokesperson in her office advised that the rule changes brought B.C. into line with other workers compensation systems in Canada.

Gentner said there is nothing wrong with giving B.C. workers better benefits than other provinces.

“Why not lead the way?”

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