Workplace Safety & Insurance Board

Overview

Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is an Agency of the Government of Ontario responsible for the administration of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA)and its regulations. 

It provides income replacement, health care, medical rehabilitation, disability pensions, return to work and labour market re-entry services to workers in certain industries identified in the Act who become injured while at work or sick due to workplace causes.  It also provides death benefits to surviving dependents of workers who are killed in the course of their work. 

Benefits are determined by the government and the premium rates required to pay for those benefits are determined by the WSIB.  Premiums are paid by employers. 

The WSIB is entirely funded through premiums which are assessed on all employers in the covered industries identified in theWSIA . 

As a result of sloppy management and political interference over the course of many years by governments of all stripes, and more recently unfavourable markets and new accounting and actuarial standards, today the WSIB finds itself in an unsustainable financial state.  Its liabilities outstrip its assets by more than about $6B.

However the  last six years has seen a renewal of the senior management team and a more disciplined and evidence based style of management and significant operational improvements have resulted.  We are optimistic that the process of reform currently underway will put the organization on the path to sustainability. 

The WSIB is currently modernizing the way determines premium rates, the manner in which it classifies employers for the purposes of assigning the appropriate premium rates and the way it adjusts individual employers premium rates to reflect their experience.  This initiative is referred to as rate Framework Modernization (RFM).

COCA’s Position

  • Workplace safety is a universal responsibility shared equally by workers and employers and COCA and its members are committed partners with the Ministry of Labour and the WSIB.
  • A strong and healthy workers’ compensation system will contribute to an improved business climate in Ontario that will attract the new investments needed to create new jobs and renewed prosperity. 
  • Ontario’s workers compensation system must be modernized so that it can provide fair compensation to workers while remaining financially sustainable for the long-term.
  • A review of the WSIB’s benefits must be conducted to ensure injured workers are being treated fairly and that benefit levels are consistent with other jurisdictions. 
  • COCA supports the elimination of the unfunded liability by 2027; once the legacy debt is retired, as a result of the efforts of the Province’s workers, employers and the WSIB, Ontario will be positioned to have the lowest compensation rates in Canada.
  • COCA supports the elimination of the WSIB’s automatic lock-in of claims with 72 months duration; the system should not give up on injured workers.
  • The WSIB must continue to strengthen its Board of Directors; when vacancies arise they must be filled with individuals who have the experience and skills that complement those of existing Board members and that address gaps in an ideal Board of Directors compentencies matrix
  • Significant investments must be made to modernize the enterprise, to update processes and technologies and to shift the organizational culture to one that values customer service, efficiency and continuous improvement.
  • Transforming and modernizing Ontario’s WSIB will require the sound planning, evidence-based decision making and disciplined approach that are being exhibited by the current senior management team.
  • Oversight for the WSIA and the WSIB should be transferred from the Ministry of Labour to the Ministry of Finance which is more appropriately skilled to monitor a large and complex group insurance plan.
  • Enhancements to the program of benefits currently offered under the WSIA should not be contemplated until the system is fully funded
  • COCA supports a classification system that balances collective liability with individual accountability, that balances the need for rate stability with responsiveness and that recognizes the needs of small employers

COCA’s Advocacy Role

  • COCA’s influence can also be seen in the WSIB’s new Rate Framework.   The new classification system, prospective experience rating program and employer-centric rate setting process will balance rate responsiveness and collective liability.  It will be implemented not earlier than January 1, 2019.
  • COCA pressed the WSIB to make some accommodation for non-exempt construction executive officers in the new Rate Framework and the provincial compensation agency has agreed in principle with our request.
  • COCA pushed the WSIB for more competitive premium rates for construction employers, and the WSIB responded with reductions for every construction rate group with some reductions for the best performing rate groups of as high as 14%
  • In 2015 COCA’s was extremely active making substantive submissions the WSIB’s rate Framework Modernization consultation.
  • As a result of pressure from COCA and other employer associations and because of the remarkable progress made to reduce the unfunded liability, the WSIB has announced there will be premium rate reductions of 10% to 16% over the next several years commencing in 2017
  • COCA’s lobbying at the WSIB met with significant success – the Safety Groups Program was continued for another year and there will be no premium rate increases in 2014.
  • In 2012, COCA successfully lobbied for a special WSIB premium rate for Executive Officers and the new Rate Group 755 for EOs was established with a reduced rate.
  • COCA advocated for the WSIB to develop a plan to eliminate their unfunded liability and achieve 100% funding within 15-20 years. The government established a regulation that requires the WSIB to achieve full funding by 2027
  • COCA secured a reduction in the industry’s liability at WSIB of $2.2 billion in 1999 which saved contractors millions of dollars in fees

Current Activities

As part of the WSIB's policy renewal process to ensure all policies are clear, provide appropriate guidance and are aligned with the organization's strategic plan and with current legislation there are two important reviews currently underway: the Benefits Policy Review and the Rate Framework Review.