Ontario MOL to cap WSIB premiums, allow NL working-at-heights certifications
By Patrick Flannery
In a call with Canadian Contractor, Ontario Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, Monte McNaughton, laid out the ministry’s plans to cap Workplace Safety and Insurance Board premium hikes and to recognize working at heights training certificates held by workers from Newfoundland and Labrador.
According to McNaughton, the ministry will move to cap 2021 WSIB premium increases on Ontario businesses at two percent. The action is necessary, he said, in order to offset a statistical rise in the average price of labour in Ontario due to the pandemic. COVID-19 has caused lower-wage workers to be laid off in higher numbers than higher earners. The combination of fewer workers at higher wages would have driven a WSIB premium increase of nine percent without intervention. Benefit payments for workers will not be affected, McNaughton says. The cap applies to the 2021 calendar year.
“We listened to small business owners, many of them contractors with six to eight employees, who told us they might have to mortgage their houses if rates go up,” McNaughton said. “We’re going to save small businesses $40 to $50 million with this.” McNaughton said the rates will “self-adjust” back to normal when pandemic measures are lifted and workers get back on the job.
The other measure McNaughton announced was an ammendment to Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Training law to automatically recognize working-at-heights training received and certified in Newfoundland and Labrador. McNaughton referenced especially a “huge” shortage of boilermakers, saying he was responding to requests from automotive manufacturers, nuclear plants and Sarnia’s petrochemical industry to enable 750 boilermakers from Newfoundland and Labrador to work immediately upon arriving in the province.
“We are knocking down barriers to increase labour mobility,” McNaughton said.