Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is a long way off from winning the confidence of Ontario business, according to a new report released in December 2013 from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC). The report, Are We There Yet? An Employer Perspective on WSIB Reform, examines the progress the WSIB has made in fulfilling its 2012 commitments to modernize its funding, operational, and governance structures. The report finds that the WSIB has made progress in reducing its massive unfunded liability by 6 percent, from $14.1 billion in 2012 to $13.2 billion in Q2 2013. It warns, however, that the WSIB must follow-through on its plan to eliminate the unfunded liability and reach a 100 percent funding ratio by 2027.
Despite a steady decline in the frequency of work-related injuries in the province, Ontario’s average employer premium rate is still one of the highest in Canada. This is due largely to the surcharge associated with paying off the WSIB’s unfunded liability, which employers have been forced to absorb as a legacy cost.
The report also calls on government to stop interfering with the WSIB. For many employers, frequent government intrusions have compromised the integrity of the system. Legislation should be amended to provide more space for the WSIB to operate autonomously as an independent public service agency.
According to the report, business confidence in the WSIB is low. An OCC survey of over 2,000 Ontario businesses finds that only 36 percent believe that the WSIB provides value for Ontarians.
“The WSIB has made progress but employer confidence is lagging,” says Allan O’Dette, President and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. “Our report lays a path forward for returning the WSIB to fiscal sustainability and independence from government, which are crucial elements in rebuilding employer confidence in the system.”