Posted on Wednesday September 26, 2018
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board of Ontario (WSIB) announced today that they are now over 100 percent funded and are operating without an Unfunded Liability (UFL). The elimination of the UFL has allowed the WSIB to provide Schedule 1 businesses with an average premium rate reduction of 29.8% for 2019.
The Ontario Mining Association considers the premium rate reduction to be a sound, significant and positive decision that will promote job creation and investments in improved workplaces for Ontarians. A well-managed WSIB is critical to Ontario's competitiveness, as it protects workers and provides predictability for the employers that fund its operations and programs.
"This is the right decision," said Duncan Middlemiss, President and Chief Executive Officer at Wesdome Gold Mines Ltd., and Chair of the OMA Board of Directors. "For decades, employers have been paying a premium surcharge to retire the Unfunded Liability." He specified that, "It's estimated that Ontario's employers were contributing between 30% and 50% of their premiums towards paying down the UFL - money that could have gone to job creation and investments."
The WSIB's Unfunded Liability - money that the WSIB owes to injured workers for future benefits that it does not have - was at a level that threatened to collapse the entire system, leaving the WSIB at real risk of being unable to meet its obligations to injured workers. The seriousness of the situation was detailed in the 2009 Annual Report of the Office of the Auditor General of Ontario. The solution developed in response involved regulated targets established by government, higher premium rates paid by employers, a focus on reducing injury rates and improved claims management.
"As a result of sustained effort by many parties, a remarkable turnaround in the financial health of the WSIB was achieved, paving the way for today's announcement," said Mr. Middlemiss, "This required leadership from successive governments, outstanding management by the WSIB, and sacrifices by businesses that contributed to bringing down the UFL."
By eliminating the unfunded liability, that portion of employer premium rates is eliminated, thereby allowing the WSIB to reduce premium rates, while ensuring that the system is funded 100% to meet its obligations to injured workers. Consequently, companies that have been over-paying to get the UFL under control are now able to invest more money in initiatives that make them employers of choice. This includes improving workplace health and safety - an area where the mining sector is leading the way, having made Ontario one of the safest mining jurisdictions in the world, and mining is one of the safest industries in Ontario.
"As far as our members are concerned, there is no better way to signal that Ontario is open for business", concluded the OMA Chair.