TORONTO — The Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) announced an increase in premium rates paid by employers of 2.5 percent yesterday.
The rate increase, which affects the trucking, warehousing and courier sectors, takes effect in 2013.
The increase is lower than what was discussed in meetings earlier this year, when officials with WSIB were looking for a new revenue strategy to address the board’s “ballooning unfunded liability,” the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) said in a statement yesterday.
“The members aren’t usually impressed when we tell them it could have been worse,” OTA president David Bradley said. “But we do feel that the consultative approach taken by new WSIB chair, Elizabeth Witmer was constructive; she clearly understands that employers in the trucking sector and elsewhere have little breathing space when it comes to increased payroll costs in the current economic environment. She is someone we can work with.”
There’s still work to be done, Bradley said. “The WSIB will need to continue to work with us to mitigate the need for further increases in future years; the WSIB’s focus needs to be as much or more on what can be done to control costs as to find revenue.”
The OTA said it has been engaged on policy review projects undertaken by the WSIB including the Jim Thomas Benefits Policy Review and stakeholder consultation on employer classification, rate setting and experience rating led by special advisor Douglas Stanley.
The association also acknowledged an announcement from Ontario labour minister, Linda Jeffrey, from earlier this week that the provincial government would be moving forward with two amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) (once the Legislature returns to business) that she says will help promote the long-term stability of the workers’ compensation system.
One of the proposed changes to the WSIA would, if passed, allow the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to review loss of earnings benefits after 72 months. Currently, benefits are generally ‘locked in’ after 72 months, even if an injured worker’s condition improves or they rejoin the workforce. Ontario is the only province in Canada to ‘lock in’ Loss of Earnings benefits after 72 months.
“If this gets introduced and passes, it will be a positive change,” says Bradley. “But, it does not negate the need for a more thorough review of the WSIB’s costs.”
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