Ontario Construction Report staff writer
Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has approved a proposal to freeze for a third year all of its 2016 assessment rates, including the construction sector, despite running a $2.8 billion surplus in 2014.
“Our Board of Directors’ decision to keep rates at current levels was made based on careful actuarial and financial analysis,” WSIB chair Elizabeth Witmer said in a news release. “It provides stability for employers as the WSIB reviews its rate setting methodologies in consultation with stakeholders to come up with the fairest and most effective solutions.”
The WSIB’s strong operating results for 2014 further reduced the Unfunded Liability (UFL) by $2.4 billion to $8.9 billion, corresponding to an increase in the Sufficiency Ratio from 63.0 per cent at December 31, 2013 to 70.9 per cent at December 31, 2014.
The Ontario General Contractor’s Association (OGCA) has reported in its newsletter that the WSIB is on target to achieve full funding up to eight years earlier than legislatively mandated.
In taking this action, the WSIB has rejected the request of the Construction Employers Coalition (CEC) to reduce rates by an average of 10 per cent, the OGCA newsletter reported.
“Despite the rate freeze, the cost for most general contractors will increase as the Maximum Earnings Ceiling rate (to cover wage inflation) will jump to $88,000 for 2016 for an increase of 3.3 per cent. The general contracting rate #723 will remain at $4.55 for 2016.”
The WSIB is consulting on its Rate Framework Modernization proposal to replace the current funding system in a few years.
The WSIB announcement said: “Together, the WSIB, injured workers and employers are making significant improvements in health care, recovery and return to work outcomes. Results show that 92 per cent of workers returned to work with no wage loss, and 80 per cent of injured workers in our Work Transition Program successfully found employment.”
“The percentage of workers still off the job after one year because of an illness or injury fell by 50 per cent since 2009, and the number of work injuries resulting in a chronic or permanent impairment has also dropped by 50 per cent,” the WSIB said.
“The WSIB is committed to working with stakeholders on improving fairness in the way the system is funded and will make further announcements on the long term outlook for funding and premium rates in the fall of 2015,” the announcement said.