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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The structural role of the Workers' Compensation Board in the industrial economy of British Columbia Moeti, Michael


This thesis outlines the structural problems that, affect the operation of the Workers' Compensation Board within the industrial economy of B.C. The study confines itself to the years between 1972 and 1937, a period in which workers' compensation in B.C. underwent political and economic transformations under the governmental aegis of the New Democratic Party government and then the Social Credit Party. In order to understand the ostensibly contradictory functions of the WCB, a partially autonomous component of the state, liberal-pluralist and Neo-Marxist models are compared and contrasted. The thesis concludes that the UCB serves two principal functions: capital accumulation and legitimation of the status quo. Historical and contemporary evidence shows that the WCB continues to serve the interests of employers at the expense of workers. Low government expenditure on health and safety safeguards, delaying of workers' claims, weak penalties against employers violating safety legislation, the chronic scarcity of safety inspectors, and the habitual undercompensation of claims, are clear indications that the WCB puts costs ahead of workers' health. The WCB's rejection of radical solutions to the problems, solutions likely to offend employers, is further evidence of the pro-capital bias of the WCB. Thus the study rejects the liberal-pluralist interpretive framework and reaffirms the structuralist, interpretation as an appropriate schema for understanding how the WCB operates within a capitalist economy. Alternatives to the WCB policy such as a universal disability plan, are explored. The chief method of investigation used in this research study was to interview workers and their representatives, lawyers specialising in the WCB, and WCB staff. Available WCB data and various evaluative reports on the WCB were important secondary sources of information.

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