WSIB on track to eliminate unfunded liability

TORONTO, July 4, 2012 /CNW/ - Appearing today before the Standing Committee on Government Agencies, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) confirmed that it is on course to eliminate its 'unfunded liability' by 2027.

"We welcome the opportunity to describe the transformation of the WSIB to a modern, sustainable and accountable workplace insurance system for workers and employers — a system that is important to the economic growth and productivity of our province," said WSIB Chair Elizabeth Witmer.

"The WSIB is indeed a highly complex agency, but at its heart, it has a critical, but simple mission: to help workers who are injured to return to work and to productive lives, and to protect employers from financial loss through a collective insurance plan," added Mrs. Witmer.

The WSIB has made many recent improvements and reforms, and is committed to more transformational change following the Funding Fairness report from Professor Harry Arthurs. Implementing many of the recommendations of the report, coupled with the WSIB's sound management, will result in a better, more responsive workplace safety and insurance system that is financially stable and sufficiently funded.

"WSIB provides insurance coverage for some four million Ontarians and at any one time supplies benefits and services to five percent of those — that's 200,000 workers who need help," said I. David Marshall, WSIB President and CEO. "The human cost to these workers and their families is substantial and the impact on the productivity of the province at a time when we are short of skilled workers can hardly be underestimated."

In 2011, the WSIB had its first operating surplus in 10 years, with revenue covering costs due to strong operational results. A series of improvements have resulted in better service and ultimately getting more workers back to work safely. Some examples are: in-sourcing Labour Market Re-entry and Return to Work improvements, a medical strategy to provide better, timelier care; and expanded eServices for better service and greater accessibility.

"The compensation, required by legislation, for a worker injured in Ontario is a good one," continues Marshall. "It is comparable with all the other provinces in Canada. We are getting 91% of all workers who were injured, back to work with no loss of pay within one year or less of their injury. So the system is working and delivers good value. We have a responsibility to the workers and employers of Ontario to ensure a financially sustainable system today and in the future."

"The WSIB's strategic plan shows a commitment to change and to preserving a strong and sustainable workplace compensation system for generations to come," said Mrs. Witmer.

"There are tough decisions to be made not the least of which is a decision about our insurance premium for employers for the next few years. But I am confident we are moving in the right direction for the benefit of Ontario's workers and employers," she concluded.

The unfunded liability represents the shortfall between the money needed to be in the WSIB's Insurance Fund to pay the benefits owing workers and the money that is there. The government has legislated a three-stage plan for closing this gap. WSIB must reach at least a 60 percent funding level by 2017; 80 percent funding level by 2022; and 100 percent funding by 2027.

The Ontario Legislature's Standing Committee on Government Agencies is empowered to review and report to the House its observations, opinions and recommendations on the operation of the Ontario government's agencies, boards and commissions. At the two-day appearance before the committee, the WSIB will hear submissions and field questions from stakeholders and government representatives from all three parties.

Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) plays a key role in the province's occupational health and safety system. The WSIB administers no-fault workplace insurance for employers and their workers and is committed to the prevention of workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The WSIB provides disability benefits, monitors the quality of healthcare, and assists in early and safe return to work for workers who are injured on the job or contract an occupational disease.

Facts at a Glance

  • WSIB staff deliver service to workers and employers through 15 offices across Ontario
  • Approximately 4 million workers are covered (out of the 5 million workers in Ontario)
  • 200,000 claims from workers each year, which is 5% of all covered workers
  • With 87% of claims, a decision comes within 2 weeks — over half within 24 hours
  • Approximately 240,000 registered employer accounts
  • Reversed a 14 year trend — benefit costs are now dropping because:
    • Fewer lost time claims entering the system
    • More workers are returning to work: 91% of injured workers are returning to work within one year of injury with no wage loss
    • Fewer workers are suffering permanent impairments as a result of their injuries
  • First operating surplus in 10 years
  • Unfunded liability is $14.2 billion (end of 2011)
  • Funding ratio (percentage of assets to all future liabilities) is 52.2% (end of 2011)

SOURCE WSIB

For further information:

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


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