November 13, 2015 by STAFF REPORT
Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board is well ahead of a legislated timetable to reach financial sustainability, which will result in lower premiums paid by employers who fund the system and long-term security for the workers who depend on it, according to WSIB Chair Elizabeth Witmer.
On current projections, the WSIB anticipates average rate reductions of between 10 and 15 per cent are possible over a five year period, starting in 2017, according to the WSIB’s 2015 Economic Statement released this week.
“In recent years, the WSIB has made great strides toward becoming more financially sustainable, transparent, responsive and accountable to the people we serve,” Witmer said. “As a result, we now expect to eliminate the unfunded liability, or ‘UFL’, by 2022 – five years ahead of the schedule required by law.”
The system’s UFL, Witmer explained, is the difference between future obligations to injured workers and the money currently on hand to pay for them.
“Fundamental changes to the WSIB’s business have brought the UFL down by nearly half, from a high of $14.1 billion in 2011 to $7.5 billion in early 2015 – all while maintaining benefit levels for injured workers and achieving the best health and safety outcomes in Canada,” Witmer added. Those changes include: safer workplaces; innovation in medical care and helping workers return to work; rising premium revenue and strong growth in the Investment Fund through the addition of operating surpluses, careful management and diversification.
“Once the burden of the UFL is gone, employer premiums will consist only of new claims and administrative costs,” Witmer said. “That’s an estimated average premium rate of $1.40 to $1.50 instead of the current average $2.46 per $100 of payroll, making Ontario one of the lowest cost jurisdictions in Canada.”
It means the WSIB will return over $2 billion annually to Ontario’s economy, and help Ontario employers become more competitive, Witmer concluded. “The job is not done. But we’re making good progress.”