WSIB and OHS for Employers in Ontario – September 2010

WSIB Update

September 28, 2010 – An evening with David Marshall, New WSIB President

On Tuesday evening, in downtown Toronto, a small group of very dedicated WSIB professionals had the opportunity to hear David Marshall speak about the WSIB‟s unfunded liability. Mr Marshall is the new President and CEO of the WSIB (see our August Bulletin). Given the mess he has willingly stepped into, we should assume (or at least hope) that this gentleman loves a challenge, is a top-notch administrator, and has tremendous regard for OPM (other people’s money). Time will tell, but it is comforting to know that as a former Assistant Auditor General and Deputy Receiver General for Canada, he knows how to count and can read a balance sheet.

Mr Marshall started with a brief historical genuflection to 1915, the „historical compromise‟ and the founding Meredith principles. Then he began his talk about the 12 billion dollar unfunded liability by telling us that “the WSIB is a good sound system and we should nurture it, protect it, and improve it”. In asking the rhetorical question “how did we get into this position”, Mr Marshall‟s answer will disappoint many of the 230,000 registered employers in Ontario.

Here is what he said:

  • Premiums have not kept up with claim costs
  • Businesses have to pony up
  • “Businesses have run up a 12 billion dollar tab”
  • “In fact this is money owed by employers to injured workers”
  • “We should ask employers what have they done with the 12 billion dollars”

And how are we going to get out of this situation, he asked:

  • First, the unfunded liability will rise to 13-14 billion dollars in the next 3-4 years. It will take time to control, about 10-15 years (presumably this is different from the unfunded liability of the 1990s that they promised to pay down by 2014)
  • We will have another major consultation
  • There will have to be steady premium increases for the next 10-15 years
  • It is a shared responsibility to fix the problems within the compensation systemSome disturbing information:
  • There are 250,000 claims in the WSIB inventory that have a projected lifetime cost of 45 billion. We would need 23 billion in the bank today to meet the obligations of these 250,000 claims, or 45 billion in the future. [Well, if that‟s the case, then the unfunded liability currently sits at 23 billion, not 12 billion – that‟s what an unfunded liability is, the current shortfall to generate the future liabilities.]
  • Currently, Ontario has the highest premium rates in the country [According to the Association of Workers‟ Compensation Boards of Canada, Ontario is actually 4th on the list; but why be picky?]
  • Ontario also has the highest rate of Permanent Impairment injuries in the entire country.[Again, the AWCBC doesn‟t think so – and it must be understood that other provinces don’t regularly provide permanent awards for the hazards of aging, just the effects of injury.]“Our Goal”:
  • According to Mr. Marshall, it’s to “protect the benefits to injured workers”
  • To nurture, protect, and improve the WSIB system
  • How about creating a system that is fair, accountable, and financially responsible?[Cézanne’s goal]
    Questions from the Audience that deserved a standing ovation:Q . It appears the Board is having an identity crisis. Will this next set of consultations answer whether or not the WSIB wants to be an insurance agency, or a social service agency? (Thank you, Jason)A. …[dodged]Q. The WSIB appears to be on the verge of being sucked into a vortex of financial collapse. Are there any plans for a major re-thinking and re-structuring similar to Ontario Hydro that would break the WSIB up into manageable parts that are more in alignment with their original purpose? It would appear that all we are doing is re-arranging the deck chairs on the

Titanic. (What a fantastic question, Norm).

A. “cutting off parts, would be like re-arranging the deck chairs” [Can‟t you hear the chorus starting up? “It‟s a good sound system, we should nurture, protect, and improve it.”]

Q. Oh yes, and the eloquent and insightful chair of this meeting asked about the rumors regarding a 6- Year NEER Window, and the end of SIEF (Stephen).

A. Yes, a 6-year NEER window IS coming for sure. [The answer to the SIEF question was unclear; it appeared that the President and CEO did not really understand SIEF since he started talking about recurrences. And as SIEF is funded out of premium dollars, should we assume premium rates would decrease commensurately with eliminated SIEF? And if SIEF is on its way out, does that mean the Hamilton-based „No, you can‟t have any‟ desk will need to be transferred to the new “work reintegration” (formerly known as LMR, department)?]

One Ray of Hope:

There WILL be a Value for Money Audit to examine the “Adjudication Process”. However, my concern is that employers are so jaded and tired of consultations that go nowhere, they will not even lift their heads to participate in yet another round.

After hearing Mr Marshall‟s brief talk on Tuesday evening, I am quite certain that either he has a lot to learn about WSIB, or his speechwriters missed the boat (Carpathia).

Personally, I think there should be an absolute moratorium, both on premium increases and further “consultations” (how much do these things cost?) until WSIB offers employers some very substantial cost cutting and significant trimming within the system first. Perhaps they could start with

their bloated management level – of the nearly 5,000 employees at WSIB, only about 1,000 actually do the work of managing claims and benefits. And there are close to 300 of their staff earning in excess of $100K per year.

 

WSIB and OHS for Employers in Ontario – January 2010

OHS Updates

1. Bill 118 in Ontario (Countering Distracted Driving) effective October 26, 2009 and prohibits the use of devices with display screens and hand-held cell phones to be used while driving. Texting or dialing at red lights is NOT permitted. Vehicles must be off the travelled part of the road and not in motion. Police start ticketing on February 1, 2010. New challenges to address in your policies relate to device users who continue to dial their cell phones and wireless hand held devices because the voice activation command prompts for dialing a call are not adequate. We recommend an update to your OHS policies and communication of these new policies to all employees who use company provided cell phones or BlackBerry devices.

Link: Bill 118, Countering Distracted Driving and Promoting Green Transportation Act, 2009

2. First Aid CPR Training: We offer a variety of First Aid CPR courses including our newly designed Workplace First Aid Training. This course prepares your dedicated first aiders by using training, scenarios and equipment customized to reflect your work environment. With a focus on scenarios, as well as the supplies, protocols and paperwork needed to handle emergencies most effectively, this course will prepare your company like no other. Course graduates receive 3-year Canadian Red Cross First Aid, CPR and AED certification.

Link: contact Jordon at www.charleboislaw.com

3. Informative Due Diligence case R. v. Lonkar (2009) from the Court of Appeal in Alberta, (young worker disobeyed, fatality, and employer not liable). The basis of this appeal relates to the instructions, training and warning provided by the employer and it is instructive for all employers. This case is a must read for anyone interested in Due Diligence.

Link: R. v. Lonkar (2009) 

 

WSIB Updates

1. WSIB Alert: There are many changes occurring at the WSIB affecting employers in Ontario. Some of these are: the new Second Injury Enhancement Fund (SIEF) team in Hamilton, more reductions in the number of WSIB Investigators, the reported removal of all WSIB ergonomists and the WSIB’s review of Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) Certification Standards. Employers are urged to go to the WSIB website and read this consultation report and submit your comments by February 5, 2010. The WSIB is considering making the Part I JHSC Certification Training a minimum number of 3-5 days in length. This is certainly not appropriate or cost efficient for lower risk environments. Also, there are some rumblings that the Hamilton SIEF team appear to be inspired by the Morneau Sobeco Report. Employers and consultants have been receiving decisions where “minor” workplace accidents are being classified as “moderate” and consequently, the level of SIEF is being reduced in these claims to 25%. Employers are advised to remember that a “moderate” accident is not determined by the injury or outcome for the worker but by what would reasonably be expected from an accident of that nature. A moderate accident is EXPECTED to cause a disabling injury. If the outcome of the accident is enhanced by other factors relating to the worker’s health, this is not a basis to call the accident “moderate”. Contact us if you have received one of these decisions and would like some assistance www.charleboislaw.com.

2. CAD-7 Alert: Try to never let your Lost Time Claims go longer than 7-days (ever). Otherwise the claim will count on your frequency index for the next two years. A frequency index of 2 claims in one year can put you in a surcharge position. Reminder: Favorable CAD-7 decisions that you receive in the current year (2010) will not show on your CAD-7 statement until the next year (2011). If a worker has a Repetitive Strain injury or Musculoskeletal injury, contact us at www.charleboislaw.com and we will help you prevent that claim from going over 7 days.

OHS Bill 168 Complimentary Checklist for Employers: In Ontario, this bill has received Royal Assent as of December 15, 2009 and becomes effective for employers in Ontario on June 15, 2010. Employers are now required to have a violence and harassment prevention policy posted and a training program in place. Click here to receive your copy.

Link: Violence & Harassment Prevention Policy Checklist

 

Get Involved & Make it Better!

1) Go on the WSIB Website and send your thoughts about JHSC Certification before February 5, 2010 2) Click on the CCOH site and send a letter to Stephen Harper about the export of Asbestos. I’ve even added the PM’s contact info here. All you have to do is cut and paste the CCOH letter and send it here! Thanks to the Canadian Occupational Safety Magazine website for bringing this to our attention.

February 2010 Bulletin: 

Complimentary Bill 168 Policy for Employers; IRS; Important Clause for Employment Policies: to prohibit employees from speaking about company, brand, or any employee on social networking sites; WSIB Appeals and Complimentary Seminars for Employers, other groups, firms or associations (on-site or in-house).