Lessons from Bringing Major Change to the WSIB

TORONTO, Feb. 5, 2014 /CNW/ - Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board is undergoing transformational change as it enters its second century of service, WSIB Chair Elizabeth Witmer said today.

In an address to the Toronto Region Board of Trade, Witmer said dramatic change in the world of work demands a new era of innovation at the WSIB to better serve injured workers and employers - while ensuring the Board's long-term sustainability.

"In embarking on our transformation, we've learned four lessons about bringing change to a large, complex agency that could apply to any major organization," Witmer said.

Assumptions exist to be challenged: Passive rehabilitation - conventional wisdom in workers' compensation for decades - has been challenged by studies showing that activity hastens recovery while inactivity delays it. "So we have transformed our approach, with return to work staff who engage with the worker and employer to facilitate a return to work. This has improved recovery and return-to-work outcomes, while reducing the number of workers requiring 100 per cent wage loss compensation."

Efficiencies don't have to mean service reductions: WSIB health costs had been rising by 8.5 per cent a year up to 2009. "Today, by becoming more actively involved in helping injured workers access the right health care and providing Programs of Care and specialized clinics, we have improved health outcomes and reduced permanent impairments. As a result, our health costs have dropped by 11 per cent - while we have increased the amount spent on each worker."

Demonstrate leadership in times of organizational change: This requires communicating results that people can measure throughout an organization, and beyond to those you serve. "For the WSIB, it's about the number of workers safely back on the job, not about the number of claims processed. Employers are seeing improved customer service. Injured workers are seeing early, personalized intervention, faster access to care and a speedier and safe return to their jobs."

Stakeholder interests don't have to be a mutually exclusive: "For employers, we provide a more stable workplace for greater productivity. For injured workers, we enable a safe return to health and rewarding jobs. This contributes to a strong economy - an interest we all share. Thanks to these initiatives, in 2012 there were over two million fewer productive days lost than in 2009 - a near-billion dollar injection into the GDP of Ontario."

And because of these transformative results, all Ontarians are seeing a return to fiscal sustainability at the WSIB for future generations, as measured by an unfunded liability that's dropped from a high of $14.2 billion in 2012 by more than $2 billion, Witmer added.

"Yet despite our progress, the system remains in a delicate state. We must maintain our focus on healthy and safe workplaces, ongoing innovation and fiscal discipline to ensure the sustainability of the WSIB - to become the best workplace safety and insurance system in Canada."

SOURCE WSIB

For further information:

Christine Arnott, WSIB Media Relations
(416) 344-4202
christine_arnott@wsib.on.ca