Canadian Culture
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Health at work: What should I know?

Updated on
September 28, 2020
Published on
July 23, 2020
BC Talents - Article - Health at work: What should I know?

Canada Talents uses decades of experience from our team, volunteers and network to create curated content for the francophone community. We are focused on helping you to understand the cultural gap in order for you to thrive in your career in Canada.

This article has been written with the participation of RésoSanté. As a non-profit organization, RésoSanté gives you all the information you need to understand how health services work in BC. 

Are you planning to live in British Columbia? If you are, you probably have many questions about the healthcare system. Unlike federal programs that must serve Canadians in both official languages, British Columbia is not required to offer its French programs. However, services exist in your language, and over 1,700 health professionals provide health services in French in BC. How to be covered? What are your rights as a worker? What should I do if I have a work accident? Let's take a look together.


Medical Service Plan

The Medical Service Plan is the British-Columbia insurance program that pays for required medical services. These include medically necessary services provided by physicians and midwives, dental and oral surgery performed in a hospital, eye examinations if medically required, and some orthodontic services. The MSP is now free since January 2020. 

Who is eligible for the MSP in BC?

All residents of British Columbia are, but you must enroll with the Medical Services Plan on your own. To join in MSP, you must meet specific eligibility criteria. These criteria fall under four categories:

Tourists or visitors to BC do not qualify.

To use health-care services in BC, you must apply for MSP. The online application takes about 15 minutes to complete. If you are new to Canada, apply for MSP as soon as you arrive. Your coverage may start three months after your arrival date in British Columbia. It would be best if you got private health care insurance while you wait. It is often mandatory in your work visa requirements. Depending on your status, you will need to provide documents attesting to your current situation.

WorkSafeBC: Your rights & responsibilities

When it comes to health and safety, everyone in the workplace has distinct responsibilities. Whether you're an owner, employer, supervisor, prime contractor, or worker, you have a role in keeping the workplace safe. As a worker, you have rights to a safe and healthy workplace, which includes the right to refuse unsafe work.

On a worksite, everyone has varying levels of responsibility for workplace health and safety. You should know and understand your obligations — and those of others. If you're a worker, you also have three fundamental rights:

Your rights

As a worker in British Columbia, you should know that you have the right to:

  • Know about hazards in the workplace,
  • Participate in health and safety activities in the workplace,
  • Refuse unsafe work. By law, employers prohibited from penalizing workers for raising a health and safety issue. Learn more about the actions workers can take if they feel this has occurred.

Your responsibilities

As a worker, you play an essential role in making sure you — and your fellow workers — stay healthy and safe on the job. you must:

  • Be alert to hazards. Report them immediately to your supervisor or employer.
  • Follow safe work procedures and act safely in the workplace at all times.
  • Use the protective clothing, devices, and equipment provided. Be sure to wear them properly.
  • Cooperate with joint occupational health and safety committees, worker health and safety representatives, WorkSafeBC prevention officers, and anybody with health and safety duties.
  • Get treatment quickly should an injury happen on the job and tell the health care provider that the damage is work-related.
  • Follow the treatment advice of health care providers.
  • Return to work safely after trauma by modifying your duties and not immediately starting with your full, regular responsibilities.
  • Never work under the influence of alcohol, drugs or any other substance, or if you're overly tired.


What should I do after an accident at work?

What am I doing in case of an accident (a work-related injury or disease) in my workplace? If you work in British Columbia, you are protected by the Workers Compensation Act, whether you are legally licensed to work in Canada or not. By law, all companies in British Columbia that hire full-time, part-time, casual or contract workers must register with WorkSafeBC.

WorkSafeBC is the agency of the Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia. Their missions include the prevention of accidents at work and occupational diseases, including education, consultation, and the implementation of procedures. They conduct workplace inspections and investigate serious incidents.

If you are injured at work, WorkSafeBC will pay for your medical treatment and rehabilitation, both in Canada and in your home country, and compensate you for your lost wages.

If you are injured at work or develop an illness that you believe may have been caused by your job:

  1. Talk to your employer first. The law requires an injured worker to report the injury or illness to the employer "as soon as possible".
  2. Complete an injury incident report available from your Human Resources Department or Occupational Health and Safety Department. Describe in detail what happened.
  3. Consult your doctor. WorkSafe BC will decide whether or not to accept your claim, usually based on medical documentation. Your doctor will then have to fill out a form and send it to WorkSafe BC.
  4. Report the injury to WorkSafe BC (Compensation and Report of Injury or Occupational Disease). By law, there is a one-year delay in reporting injuries to WorkSafe BC, but it is always best to do so immediately. You can apply even if you do not have a medical leave.


For Health and Safety Prevention Services, you can also contact: Phone: 604.276.3100 (Lower Mainland) / Toll-free: 1.888.621.7233


In this article, we've gone through the essential information you need to know if you are planning to live in British Columbia. Want to go deeper? Visit the website of RésoSanté and find a doctor.

BC Talents offers many articles to understand Canadian culture and also coaching and workshops to help you to integrate the job market. Schedule your call now.

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Canada Talents uses decades of experience from our team, volunteers and network to create curated content for the francophone community. We are focused on helping you to understand the cultural gap in order for you to thrive in your career in Canada.