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Ontario Construction News staff writer
Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is cutting premium rates in 2022 by $168 million, bringing the total reduction in premiums since 2018 to $2.4 billion. The government will also introduce legislation that, if passed, would allow for a significant portion of the WSIB’s current reserve to be distributed to safe employers.
Details were shared last week by Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development at Donut Monster, a local bakery in Hamilton whose WSIB premiums are being reduced next year.
He says measures will help employers cope with the impacts of COVID-19.
“We know shopkeepers and merchants on Main Streets across Ontario need help. That is why our government is taking action by modernizing the WSIB to support these employers and protect local jobs,” McNaughton said. “This package will save employers hundreds of millions of dollars that can be reinvested in new jobs, technology, and health and safety protections. At the same time, injured workers will continue to receive the benefits and services they deserve.”
The Ontario government is also proposing to enable the WSIB to work with the Canada Revenue Agency to streamline remittances for businesses to reduce administrative costs and burdens by giving businesses an efficient one-stop-shop for submitting payroll deductions.
“Ontario construction employers and workers have continually risen to the challenge of making worksites safe while building the essential infrastructure our communities rely on. The proposed legislation will allow Ontario’s construction employers to invest in making their workforce safer. It also takes steps to secure the integrity and full funding of the Ontario workers’ compensation system,” said Giovanni Cautillo, president, Ontario General Contractors Association.
Closures in low-wage sectors due to the pandemic have resulted in a spike in Ontario’s Average Industrial Wage. As a result, the ceiling for worker benefits will be increasing by 9.45 per cent. To prevent some businesses from having to pay thousands of dollars a year in additional premiums, Ontario is capping the growth of premiums to an increase of 3.2 per cent (close to the normal range) through a regulation under the Workplace Safety and Amendment Act. Similar action was taken for 2021.
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board covers over five million people in more than 300,000 workplaces across Ontario.
Distributing surplus WSIB funds was a recommendation from the WSIB Operational Review that was released in November 2020.
“We are pleased that the Government of Ontario recognizes the long-term commitment Ontario employers have made to the full funding of the WSIB,” said David Frame,” chair, Construction Employers Coalition. “This proposal provides relief to workplaces during a difficult economic time while the system remains fully funded with no impact on taxpayers or at the expense of injured workers.”