WSIB announces rate freeze for 2005

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TORONTO, Ont. — The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) recently announced rates will not be raised in 2005, which means trucking rates could decrease.

But while Ontario Trucking Association president David Bradley welcomed the news, he warned rate hikes are likely in 2006.

“This is like the old line, ‘I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news’,” Bradley said. “On one hand, the board is announcing that the aggregate rate for WSIB has been frozen for 2005, which will mean a decrease for the trucking rate groups. That’s the good news. But at the same time, the WSIB is telling us that this is likely just a postponement of inevitable rate hikes until 2006.”

The WSIB 2005 average premium rate will be $2.19 for every $100 of insurable earnings — the same as the average rate for 2004. But that doesn’t mean rates will stay the same for all employers, as rates for individual rate groups are recalculated based on injury frequency and claims costs for each individual rate groups.

For rate group 570 — general trucking — the rate will drop by 2.5 per cent from $5.83 to $5.68. The warehousing rate will also decrease from $2.80 to $2.73 while courier services will drop from $2.75 to $2.62.

Be that as it may, in a letter to stakeholders from interim WSIB Chair Jill Hutcheon announcing the 2005 rates, Hutcheon also states: “…next spring the WSIB will act. We must and will make decisions at that time regarding the best interests and financial sustainability of the system.”

“While we are not precluding the outcome of our discussions, it is our strong belief that a rate increase will be required in 2006. The size of the increase will depend on the cost pressures and the mitigating impact of any solutions that are identified over the coming months.”

Bradley promised the OTA will continue to participate in ongoing discussion regarding future rate changes.

“You can be sure that the OTA will continue to play a significant role in the discussions that Hutcheon has indicated will determine the future of WSIB rates, including experience rating changes, health care costs, occupational disease coverage and the overall WSIB funding framework. We certainly welcome the 2005 rate announcement, but at the same time we’re getting ready to fight any suggestion of a rate hike next year. We know that our industry cannot afford a WSIB rate hike and we will be making the case as forcefully as we can that the government and the WSIB must find better alternatives to hiking rates in 2006.”

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