COCA WSIB/OH&S Committee Chair Craig Moore and Vice-Chair Ron Johnson
The Committee will conduct research, study legislation and policy, consult with the membership and others and conduct other activities that it determines necessary in order to provide advice and to recommend positions on the full range of WSIB issues, including but not limited to the sustainability of Ontario's WSIB system, the unfunded liability, experience rating, accreditation, return to work, re-employment, the new service delivery model, worker benefits and premium rates.
Craig Moore, Chair
Ron Johnson, Vice Chair
REPORT ON 2012 ACTIVITIES
The high level of Committee activity in 2011 continued throughout 2012 in both the WSIB and occupational health and safety sides of our Committee’s mandate.
On the health and safety file, we provided advice to the Ministry of Labour’s new Prevention Secretariat on a wide range of issues and draft products including the Prevention Starts Here workplace poster, the Worker Awareness Workbook, the Employer Guide to the Worker Awareness Program, the Prevention Council Governance Framework and A Supervisor’s Guide in 5 Steps. We also provided advice to the government with regard to the new OHSA regulation giving the Office of the Employer Adviser authority to support employers with regard to section 50 reprisals.
We were extremely concerned (to put it politely) that a construction employer was not appointed to the Ministry of Labour’s Prevention Council and we expressed those concerns most emphatically to the highest levels of government. It was, after all, a tragic construction accident that led to the Dean review and the creation of the Prevention Council. COCA is working closely with the Chief Prevention Officer to address this important omission.
On the WSIB side, the long awaited report on the WSIB's Funding Review conducted by Professor Harry Arthurs and titled Funding Fairness was finally made public in early May. We were pleased that in general agreement with COCA, Arthurs recommended the WSIB achieve 90% to 110% funding within 20 years and that premium rates be set on the basis of actual cost of providing insurance to employers. Concurrent with the release of the Arthurs Report, the government committed to full funding in 15 years which was a pleasant surprise.
During the year the WSIB conducted an internal review of its appeals program and published a discussion paper to bring focus to the consultations on the subject. Believing that it's time for the appeals program to be streamlined and that the new process must be fair to both workers and employers, that reasonable timelines be provided for the exchange of information and that the rules be strictly enforced to avoid unnecessary delay, our Committee reviewed and supported the comprehensive submission made by the Office of the Employer Adviser.
In the wake of the Arthurs Report, the WSIB established a Consultation Secretariat and initiated two important consultations. The first, referred to as the WSIB Benefits Review, is considering recurrences, work disruptions, permanent impairments and aggravation basis. COCA met with consultation chair Jim Thomas to discuss these matters. The second consultation, capably led by Douglas Stanley, is investigating rate setting, classification and experience rating. We have also had two opportunities to meet with Stanley who will be publishing a consultation paper early in 2013. Both of these consultations will keep the Committee busy in the year ahead.
During the last half of 2012, the WSIB conducted a public awareness campaign to encourage independent operators to pre-register before January 1, 2013. COCA used every opportunity to spread the word that beginning January 1, 2013 independent operators and non-exempt executive officers must be registered with the WSIB.
The WSIB delayed announcing rates for 2013 until late October. The Arthurs Report led many to believe an increase of 5% - 10% was in store. However, as a result of pressure from COCA and other employer organizations and with good operating results in the hands of the WSIB, the increase for 2013 was limited to 2.5% across the board.
In early December the Ontario Auditor General produced his annual report in which he had expressed serious concerns about the WSIB’s financial position in previous years. In this year’s report he expressed a degree of confidence in the steps taken by management noting an increase in the unfunded liability resulting from a technical matter.
We believe the WSIB and its senior management team are on the right track. However we will continue to monitor developments closely to ensure the organization operates in a disciplined way in order to return to a sustainable state to serve the employers and workers of Ontario effectively.