By Robin MacLennan
Ontario Construction News staff writer
Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is ending its unfunded liability charge, resulting in a $607 million reduction in costs to business, Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton announced this week.
“This is good news for employers and employees across the province,” said McNaughton. “This money will lead to investments in new jobs, technology and health and safety programs.” He added that with this change, the current government has reduced WSIB costs to business by more than $2 billion, while benefits to injured workers are maintained and workplace safety continues to improve.
“This is another part of our government’s plan for providing more economic opportunity for the people of Ontario,” McNaughton said. “By eliminating the unfunded liability, the WSIB has ensured over 222,000 businesses across the province will see premiums reduced.”
The WSIB will officially eliminate its unfunded liability charge beginning in January 2020.
McNaughton made the announcement at a job site operated by Eastern Construction, an Ontario-based company that has pledged to give WSIB premium reductions back to employees. Eastern’s 130 employees each received a cheque worth on average $600 from their employer last year.
“A good safety record saves lives and money,” said Bryan Arnold, president and CEO of the construction firm. “We want to do everything we can to encourage our employees to keep our sites safe. This was a common-sense move for us.”
McNaughton applauded Eastern Construction’s decision.
“Worker safety is my top priority,” he said. “I’m proud to stand today with Eastern Construction to celebrate their innovative commitment to safety culture.”
According to Ian Cunningham, president and COO at Council of Ontario Construction Associations, the announcement is a “significant achievement.”
“The WSIB’s unfunded liability, which not that long ago exceeded $14 billion, served as a red flag to investors looking for a place to build office towers, commercial facilities, factories and warehouses and create jobs, warning them of the burden of future increased taxes,” he said.
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) also applauded the decrease, calling the announcement “critical” for helping Ontario manufacturers compete for investment by reducing their operating costs.
“This continuing trend in rate reductions also reaffirms the tremendous efforts of Ontario manufacturers and their employees to reduce workplace injuries and related claims,” said Dennis Darby, CME president and CEO.
The WSIB said the average premium rate for 2020 will be $1.37, a decline of 17 per cent from $1.65 in 2019.
Class average rates for the construction classes in 2020 are:
- G1 Building Construction $2.30
- G2 Infrastructure Construction $2.31
- G3 Foundation, Structure and Building Exterior Construction $4.45
- G4 Building Equipment Construction $1.84
- G5 Specialty Trades $2.47