John Slinger, the WSIB's chief operating officer, said that Canadian Contractor's article by Alec Caldwell contained "inaccuracies."
November 11, 2015 by Steve Payne
Editor’s note: Yesterday (Nov. 10), the WSIB’s chief operating officer, John Slinger, sent us his official response to Alec Caldwell’s post arguing that the WSIB has been improving its financial position on the backs of denied claimants. Here it is…
Note: We have made a note in Alec’s article of the WSIB’s unfunded liability being $7.5-billion, according to Mr. Slinger, not the $9-billion Alec stated.
I am writing to you today to correct the record in terms of the inaccuracies contained in the article which appeared in the online version of your publication on November 10 by Alec Caldwell regarding the WSIB. The following are the key points I am writing to address:
There has been no change in the WSIB’s allowance rate. Today, workers are getting their claims approved faster than ever before. In fact, 92% of all eligibility decisions are made within 2 weeks, compared to 65% in 2008.
Health Care Costs
Regardless of the type of injury or its severity, the WSIB’s role is to give the support needed, to make sure that, wherever possible, workers are able to recover and return to work and that there are no financial costs for the worker as a result of the injury.
When an injury occurs or an illness is diagnosed, the WSIB acts quickly to ensure workers receive timely, specialized medical care. The WSIB has established a network of Specialty Clinics and Programs of Care throughout Ontario that integrate recovery treatment and return to work planning to ensure optimal outcomes.
Today over 40 per cent of claims are now treated through at least one of these programs, up from just 18 per cent in 2008. Workers are returning to work more safely and sooner. For example, compared with 2010, the number of workers today with back injuries that develop permanent impairments has decreased by over 80 per cent.
Returning the WSIB to financial sustainability is central to the well-being of injured workers, by ensuring the system is there for them in the years to come. It was only in 2009 that the Auditor General warned that the state of the WSIB’s finances was so unbalanced that it threatened to collapse the entire system. This would have been a catastrophic loss for Ontario workers. That threat is now a receding memory with the system’s Unfunded Liability now down to $7.5 billion (not, as your article states, “somewhere around $9 billion”) from an unsustainable high in 2012 of $14.2 billion.
All of this is framed by the strongest recovery and return-to-work outcomes of any province in Canada: Throughout 2014, 92 per cent of injured workers with lost-time injuries returned to work with no wage loss within 12 months of their injury. I hope the foregoing serves to correct the record as portrayed by Canadian Contractor.
Chief Operating Officer
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board