(TORONTO, ON) – Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) announced today at its annual general meeting in Toronto, that it has eliminated its unfunded liability ahead of schedule and is introducing an across-the-board average premium reduction to employers of 29.8%.
News of the rate reduction for employers comes after the WSIB has already cut premiums to employers by 10% over the last few years. Today’s announcement means $2.23 billion in savings for employers, once premium cuts are fully introduced, and spells more bad news and dire consequences for injured workers in Ontario.
“The WSIB has eliminated its unfunded liability largely at the expense of benefits to injured workers,” said Ontario Federation of Labour President Chris Buckley. “Today’s announcement of an additional cut of nearly 30% to employer premiums will further negatively affect injured workers – that far too often struggle to access the benefits to which they are entitled,” Buckley added.
In 2010, the WSIB issued compensation benefits to injured workers in the amount of approximately $4.8 billion, by 2017 that number was cut to $2.3 billion. Studies of injured workers with permanent impairments found that 58% have long-term reduced earnings, 46% of permanently impaired injured workers live in or close to the poverty level and 9% live in deep poverty.
The elimination of the WSIB’s unfunded liability has included reductions in health care expenditures and reducing benefits for what the WSIB calls “pre-existing conditions,” even when those conditions never caused the injured worker to miss time from work before their injury.
This risky move has the potential to further polarize relations between employers and workers in Ontario, instead of fostering cooperation on the prevention of workplace injuries and diseases, and the sustainable re-employment of injured workers.
“Ontario’s unions have a strong proven track record working with their employers in these two vital areas, however, it has been in the context of a workers’ compensation system which properly compensated the workers who suffered injury or disease,” said Buckley. “Now, we must redouble our efforts to finding win/win solutions with employers the likes of which have been achieved in the past.”
The OFL calls on Ontario’s Minister of Labour, Laurie Scott to ensure that every worker in Ontario has universal access to workers’ compensation and to ensure that the prevention of occupational injury, illness and disease receives the critical attention and funding required to build safer workplaces.
The OFL has endorsed the Ontario Network of Injured Workers Groups “Workers Comp is a Right” campaign and joins with community partners and affiliated members in calling for universal WSIB coverage for every worker in Ontario.
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For further information contact:
Ontario Federation of Labour
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