August 22, 2014
WSIB premium rates are too high and many employers overtaxed
Mississauga, ON, – Following on today's premium rate announcement, the Construction Employers Council on WSIB, Health and Safety, and Prevention [CEC] would like to congratulate WSIB chair Elizabeth Witmer and CEO David Marshall for the strong improvements that have been made to the WSIB's financial position under their stewardship. Given this rapidly improving financial situation, the time is fast approaching to reduce WSIB premium rates to bring them into line with employer performance on lost-time injury (LTI) rates in the province.
"A rate freeze is not the good news story it once was," says CEC interim-chair Richard Lyall. "Employers in Ontario are begin overtaxed, as premium rates remain much higher than is necessary, given the significant decline in LTI rates over the last decade. While we are encouraged by the board's improved finances, let me be clear – this largely came about by employer actions to reduce injuries and accept high premium rates. Following today's announcement, WSIB premium rates need to more reasonably reflect employer performance and WSIB funding needs."
Lyall points out that since 2004, construction injuries have declined by 36 per cent, and yet, over the same time period, the average maximum construction premium per worker has increased by 41 per cent. Employers are continually investing in health and safety training and technologies to improve their LTI performance, but they have not seen a return for this investment (through decreasing premium rates) in over a decade.
These fees are putting a considerable strain on Ontario construction employers and add significant costs to the price of infrastructure development. By way of comparison, a residential construction worker (home builder) in Alberta pays $1,698 to insure a worker earning $100,000. The same employer in Ontario would pay 4-1/2 times this amount to cover the same amount of risk.
The CEC has been working very closely with the WSIB since 2010 to improve funding levels and this work is paying off. While it is recognized that the Board's recovery is not complete, WSIB tax rates must be more realistically set moving forward.
Lyall explains that since 2010, the WSIB has had a policy in place to not allow rates to decrease and to keep the required rate (target rate) a secret. "We know that the Board faced a financial crisis that needed to be addressed, and in the spirit of partnership we supported this policy. But the time has come for employer premium rates to more accurately reflect our risk. Today, they do not."