Q & A
This is a campaign to ensure injured workers today are treated fairly and covered universally under the compensation system managed by the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). A century ago, Ontario’s workers and employers made a “historic compromise” – injured workers gave up their right to sue and employers agreed to fund a compensation system managed independently by the government.
We want to restore the WSIB to its founding principles by bringing coverage to the nearly 1.7 million workers not currently covered, and by ensuring that when someone is injured, they receive the support and compensation they need to become whole again.
The WSIB is financed through employer contributions, not by taxpayers. Injured workers who can’t get the support they need through the WSIB have to rely on publicly-funded health care, social assistance and disability programs. Taxpayers end up footing the bill for workplace injuries and workers don’t receive the wage replacement, rehabilitation, new occupational training, and other supports they need in order to lead productive lives.
Businesses currently covered under the WSIB pay more because other employers aren’t paying their share. Employers covered by WSIB pay over $258 for province-wide health and safety programs that benefit all employers. Universal comprehensive coverage would level the playing field and spread the “risk” of compensation across more employers, reducing their individual contributions.
More workers covered by WSIB=less pressure on the public purse.
Ontario led the world when it created the first comprehensive “no fault” workers’ compensation system. Now, Ontario (Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia) covers fewer workplaces than any other province. There are still large groups of workers without WSIB coverage. Employees who work in group homes, banking and insurance, health care and social assistance as well as professional, scientific and technical services are not currently covered. Almost 24% or 1.7 Million of Ontario’s employers do not provide WSIB coverage.
The truth is, we can’t afford a plan that doesn’t provide universal comprehensive coverage to all injured workers. The WSIB is financed through employer contributions, not by taxpayers. Insured workers who can’t get the support they need through the WSIB have to rely on publicly-funded health care, social assistance and disability programs. Taxpayers end up footing the bill for workplace injuries, and workers don’t receive the wage replacement, rehabilitation, new occupational training or other supports they need to lead productive lives.
Businesses currently covered under the WSIB pay more because other employers aren’t paying their share. Employers covered by the WSIB pays over $258 million for province-wide health and safety programs that benefit all employers. The funding supports investigations, research and training. Universal comprehensive coverage would level the playing field and spread the “risk” of compensation across more employers, reducing their individual contributions while also fairly sharing the cost of administering the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
Studies have shown employers who are not required to have WSIB coverage but who voluntarily elect to do so pay less then they would for insurance with the added benefit of providing a safety net for their workers.
More workers covered by the WSIB = less pressure on the public purse.
The support and compensation provided by the WSIB is far better than what an injured worker receives through disability programs like OHIP, employment insurance or disability support. The responsibility lies with the employer as a cost of doing good business.
The Cover Me campaign also seeks to improve benefits for covered workers, especially Injured Workers currently receiving partial wage loss benefits. Unlike, full wage loss benefits, these payments are not increased to keep pace with the rising cost of living. It is estimated that expanding coverage would add $59.2 million to the contribution to legislative requirements and $162.6 million to the contribution to administrative overhead; a funding injection that should in part be used to enhance benefits to Injured Workers. Overall the system must be fair to all workers with permanent disabilities. Both full and partial compensation for permanent disabilities should match the real cost of living.
In 2018, WSIB achieved a historic financial milestone by becoming a fully funded system. WSIB paid off $14.2 billion unfunded liability almost 10 years ahead of schedule. The achievement was met with an average premium rate cut of 29.8 per cent in 2019.
The UFL – the shortfall between the money needed to pay future benefits and the money in the insurance fund – existed for decades and reached a high of $14.2 billion in 2011.
“This achievement safeguards Ontario’s workplace health and safety system,” said Elizabeth Witmer, Chair of the WSIB. “People who are hurt or become ill as a result of their work can have confidence, we will be here to help them now and always.”
Ontario businesses, which played an important role in paying down the UFL, will now see a significant reduction to the average premium rate, leaving more money in the economy. The 2019 average premium rate will decrease by 29.8 per cent from $2.35 to $1.65.
“Today’s premium rate announcement leaves $1.45 billion in the economy every year that businesses can invest in new jobs, new technology, and health and safety improvements,” said Witmer.
“Expanding coverage from 76.5% of Ontario’s workplaces to 100% will generate additional rate reductions of 3.9%,” said Harry Goslin, President of the Ontario Compensation Employees Union. “This would leave another $180 Million that employers can use to grow the economy.”
“This is great news for everyone in Ontario. Employers can use these major savings to put more money back in the economy, invest in new equipment and infrastructure, and create good jobs right here in Ontario. Workers can have confidence that the WSIB has a sustainable system with enough money to pay for their future benefits,” said Laurie Scott, Minister of Labour. “
he provincial government needs to revise the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to include all employers automatically. Also, amendments to the act need to be made to ensure that cost-saving programs don’t lead to workplace injuries being hidden and workers being pressured back to work before they have properly recovered.