Is your employer saving money on reduced injury premiums?
Find out! If they are, remember to account for that as you prepare for bargaining.
In Ontario, WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) premiums are going down for almost every employer in the province. Overall premium rates were cut 9 per cent for 2017 and 2018. This means employers are saving money in labour costs – on average about $300 per minimum wage employee per year and even more for higher-paid employees.
To achieve this, the WSIB is denying benefit claims to more injured workers in order to both bring down costs and bring down premiums.
This is happening because the Ontario Liberal government wants to have the lowest allowed lost-time injury rate in the country – and one of the lowest levels of compensation premiums.
Allowed lost-time injuries are injuries that the board accepts as formally claimable. In Ontario, these have been going down for many years in all industries including hospitals, long-term care, and health care generally. The all-industry allowed rate has been cut in half since 2002.
But if WSIB is denying benefits to injured workers, then injured workers are having to rely on their own sick time and other employment benefits to compensate. This is where CUPE locals can help.
Given this trend, CUPE encourages locals to negotiate with their employers to put the savings from lower WSIB premiums into better sick plans and improved benefit coverage.
At the same time, we encourage workers to keep up pressure on the government and employers to cover lost-time injuries. For example, it’s cynical to recognize PTSD as a compensable claim for emergency workers and then deny the claims that come in. And the number of injuries for assaults, violent acts and harassment that were covered by WSIB have gone up in hospitals by 25 per cent over the past few years, but we know that employers are putting more pressure on injured workers to get back to work sooner.
These pressures may spread across the country. If Ontario’s government and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board are successful in driving down successful claims by injured workers and bringing down premium costs, we can expect to see this same pressure in other jurisdictions.