WSIB premiums decrease for first time in 15 years
Ontario’s Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) made headlines this month by announcing that employer premiums would decrease an average of 5% in 2017, the first such decrease in over 15 years. This will result in approximately $250 million less being collected from employers, making the average premium rate $2.46 per $100 of insurable payroll, down from $2.59 in 2016.
However, not all industries will see the benefit of the decreased premiums. In fact, the WSIB’s 2017 premium rates show that more than half of all industries will see no change at all in 2017—which many will argue is still a positive thing when compared to years of regular increases.
Only two rate groups (industries) will see an increase, Ambulance Services (Rate Group 590) and Local Government Services (Rate Group 845), which were both impacted with higher claim costs following the new presumptive Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) legislation, which supports first responders with PTSD.
According to the WSIB, rate groups (industries) that have shown the most positive performance will see a decrease of up to 14%. Some examples include:
- Form Work & Demolition (Rate Group 748): $15.75 per $100 of insurable payroll (down from $18.31 in 2016)
- Siding & Outside Finishing (Rate Group 751): $8.82 per $100 of insurable payroll (down from $10.25 in 2016)
- Warehousing (Rate Group 560): $2.95 per $100 of insurable payroll (down from $3.43 in 2016)
The decrease in average premium rates is a result of an improved financial position for the beleaguered organization, according to Chair Elizabeth Witmer and president/CEO Tom Teahen in their recently released WSIB Economic Statement 2016. The WSIB has been able to reduce its ominous unfunded liability (UFL) from $14.2 billion in 2009 to $5.6 billion this year and attributes its success to:
- Increased premium revenue from employers since 2009 collected specfically to decrease the UFL
- Fewer claims as a result of improved health & safety measures across the province
- Improved recovery and return-to-work results for injured workers
Not everyone is impressed
Not all stakeholders are celebrating the news. The Ontario Network of Injured Workers protested the WSIB’s annual general meeting and is critical of the WSIB’s ongoing cost-cutting measures that they believe come at the expense of injured workers. Organization spokesperson Catherine Fenech said:
It’s horrifying that the WSIB is reducing employer premiums at a time when their policies are causing so many injured workers to go into crisis.
The WSIB counters by claiming that average employee benefits have remained stable since 2009 and that average health care spending per injured worker claim has grown slightly from $1,511 in 2009 to $1,595 in 2016. The WSIB also states that 92% of injured workers return to work with no wage loss within 12 months of injury.
The WSIB says that further premium rate reductions are possible in 2018 and 2019, depending on financial results and the health of the provincial economy.
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