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OTA prez slams proposed WSIB hike

TORONTO, Ont. -- With the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) Board of Directors poised to approve a rate h...

TORONTO, Ont. — With the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) Board of Directors poised to approve a rate hike at its board meeting tomorrow (July 20) OTA President David Bradley wrote to WSIB President and Acting Chair Jill Hutcheon urging her “in the strongest possible terms” to reject the proposed increase in premiums.

In his letter, which was also sent to Labour Minister Steve Peters, Finance Minister Greg Sorbara and Premier Dalton McGuinty, Bradley told the WSIB Chair that “any such decision to hike payroll taxes (which is what WSIB premiums are in fact) when other alternatives exist is unacceptable to my industry.

“The OTA and the rest of the employer community have clearly and repeatedly indicated that rather than face a payroll tax hike, we would rather that the WSIB revisit the policy of achieving full funding by 2014 and move the date to 2016 or beyond in order to keep rates stable. From our perspective, this full funding objective is clearly the ‘pressure’ that the board has the greatest control over and the greatest ability to modify in order to eliminate the need for rate hikes,” continued Bradley.

“It is important to note that it was in fact originally employer groups that pressed the board to deal with its unfunded liability issue by committing to the ‘full funding by 2014’ goal. The reason for this position was the employer community’s concerns about the possibility of future massive rate hikes. I think it is also extremely relevant to remember that at that time employers agreed to increased premiums in the short term in order to ensure that rates would continue to decrease over the long term. That was the basis for the 2014 policy, increased rates up front, elimination of the unfunded liability by 2014, and the reduction in premiums as we approached that 2014 date.

“Increasing premiums now would violate the spirit of the consensus around 2014. As employers we accepted higher rates over the past two decades based on the promise of lower rates. The purpose of the 2014 policy was to ensure that rates would not go up, but now, by proposing an increase in rates, the WSIB has both violated our trust that rates would go down and invalidated the 2014 policy.
“During the ‘consultations’ the WSIB’s own analysis showed that there is currently no funding crisis, and that simply by moving the target date for eliminating the unfunded liability to 2016 the need for a rate hike at this time would be removed.”

Bradley concluded as follows: “I urge you to reject any suggestion that WSIB premiums should be increased. There is no need if you chose the responsible alternative offered by the employer community.”

OTA has participated in the WSIB’s rate consultations over the past nine months, repeatedly arguing that rate hikes could, and should, be avoided.

Prior to writing today’s letter, OTA also met with the new Labour Minister, Steve Peters, last week along with a number of other employer associations and pressed the Minister directly to use his power to stop the WSIB from hiking rates.

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