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WSIB denies OFL claim that it paid safety rebates to firms convicted of safety violations

The WSIB, accused of paying safety rebates - totalling in the millions - to safety violating firms, has defended itself in this press release


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November 27, 2014 by Steve Payne

The Toronto Star published a front page story on Monday that claimed Ontario’s WSIB paid millions of dollars in safety rebates to firms who had been convicted of safety violation offences under the Occupational Health & Safety Act.  The story was largely based on a report released by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL). Alec Caldwell, our columnist, wrote an editorial on the topic, wondering why the WSIB would spend millions of dollars in this way, especially in light of the WSIB’s well-publicized unfunded liability (debt).

The WSIB wasn’t long in responding to the Star article, and in fact, has categorically denied most – if not all – of the OFL’s claims. Neither the Toronto Star nor the OFL have, at time of writing, reaffirmed their allegations, or restated them. So we think we should show you the WSIB’s defence of itself here.

WSIB Response to OFL Report
TORONTO, November 24, 2014 – This morning, the Ontario Federation of Labour released a report identifying a number of employers who allegedly received rebates from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) after being convicted of offences under the Occupational Health & Safety Act. This report was also profiled in a front-page story in the Toronto Star.

The report and its conclusions are incorrect as the researchers failed to validate the information with the WSIB, and have inaccurately stated that numerous rebates were paid to employers when in fact, they were not. Unfortunately, the report was not shared with the WSIB in advance. The WSIB was contacted by the Toronto Star late last week for comment on the report, and at that time, we advised that the examples provided contained numerous inaccuracies.

Inaccurate and misleading information
The OFL report profiles seven examples of fatalities in the workplace. In each of these examples, charges were laid under the Occupational Health & Safety Act, resulting in convictions of and fines to the employers. However, in four of these examples, the report inaccurately states that rebates ranging from $675,000 to $2.7 million were paid to these employers. In fact, all four of these rebates were cancelled under the WSIB’s Fatal Claims Adjustment Policy, and were never paid out. In two remaining examples, the report appears to have misidentified the appropriate employer in each case. In these two cases, no rebates were paid to the correct employer. In the final example, the employer was not eligible for a rebate in the year the fatality occurred.

In fact, in addition to the $1.1 billion in employer premium surcharges collected since 2009, the WSIB has applied the Fatal Claims Adjustment Policy in numerous cases, resulting in the cancellation of $10.9 million in premium rebates since 2009, with a further $4 million in rebates still pending review under this policy.

Commitment to health and safety
We should all be proud of the fact that Ontario has the safest workplaces in Canada. Lost time claims fell to 41,500 in 2013, down from 62,000 in 2008, a drop of 33 per cent. These improvements are thanks to a number of factors, including tremendous strides that have been made in strengthening prevention and health and safety awareness by worker and employer groups, agencies like ours, and the Ministry of Labour.

The WSIB’s modernization of programs helps injured workers receive faster access to specialized medical care and supports, and our new approaches to workplace reintegration for injured workers help reduce the risk of the onset of permanent impairments. These changes have a tremendous impact on making Ontario’s workplaces safer.


Steve Payne

Steve Payne

Steve Payne is the editor of Canadian Contractor magazine
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6 Comments » for WSIB denies OFL claim that it paid safety rebates to firms convicted of safety violations
  1. Ryan says:

    Things only get worse today for workers in Ontario. The Toronto Star has announced that in addition to the $11 billion unfunded liability, the WSIB traders also gambled away 15.5% of their investment last year. It is unclear what the actual dollar amount is but rest assured its in the hundreds of millions.

    http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorials/2009/12/08/wsib_problem_wont_go_away.html

  2. Terry says:

    When are these people going to be investigated and jailed.
    They seem to want to hang us any chance they get!

  3. andrew says:

    The issue of rebate and surcharges is a smoke screen. The primary challenge is remedying the financial obstacles, both the unfunded liability (“UFL”) and the operational deficiencies, created and exacerbated by the WSIB and the Ontario government. Worse is that the UFL is purposefully being kept off Ontario’s financial ledger but we all, in fact, own the debt.

    Injury and fatality frequency are decreasing yet ‎rebates are decreasing and surcharges are increasing. The WSIB’s Rate Framework Consultation provides an opportunity to adopt a prospective experience rating system (bad performers are penalized above common premium rate) but others argue for a continuation of the retrospective system (under the false assumption that rebates will exist forever and can be recognized as “revenue” in subsequent fiscal years).

    Would a private underwriter buy the WSIB “business”, UFL and all, and still deliver lower premiums? In the end, as a result of financial mismanagement, Ontarians will have to accept much worse options to resolve. Freedom as liberty was good while it lasted ; )

  4. Steve…I would like to hear what the Ontario Federation of Labour says to this!!! Everyone’s comments here are just and i still say, if WSIB were a private company would be bust by now. It is a crazy situation. Further did they not start the WSIB as a new organization, as their last attempt the WCB also went in to billions in debt? Here we are again…….

  5. Sean Keane says:

    Steve,
    A little history and this data comes directly from reports issued by the WSIB that solidifies the ultimate facts that our Provincial Government ( all parties) have closed their eyes and allowed the WSIB to operate with impunity.
    In 2004 the unfunded liability was just shy of $ 3 billion in a report issued by the WSIB it is stated that their game plan was to have that unfunded liability eliminated by 2014. Roll forward a mere 2 years to 2006 that unfunded liability doubled to just shy of $ 6 billion in 2008 it doubled once again by 2013 some estimates placed the liability somewhere between $ 14.5 billion and $ 18 billion.
    With the exception of 2013 where no one knows the true number the unfunded liability has increased by $ 1.8 billion a year since 2004, not decreased. These are all reports issued by the WSIB to the government. So who’s at fault here. This mismanagement can not be denied by any sitting Premiere. In my view and as noted by Alec, if this was a private entity run by shareholders at the very least would be shut down in 2006 when the liability doubled.
    So what has the Government done, it has introduced new legislation like bill 119 to force more people in Ontario to pay into an already failed system and at the same time allowed WSIB to create more stringent rules to enable them to decline more claims. For example the much talked about recurring injury, the denial rate from what I understand from reading the Star, the Sun and many of the social media stories has increased dramatically.
    As I have shown here quite often and await my day in court, the Government has allowed the WSIB to enforce their will on the innocent, my particular case I suggest unlawful acts designed to destroy anyone who does not agree with their position. They act as if they have ultimate power.
    Sadly because of some of my actions I have the unfortunate opportunity to hear and read some of the other atrocities faced not only by employers but injured workers as well. It can not be denied that our sitting and past MPP’s have been well informed and as you know I have made certain that has happened. Yet they still close their eyes. I think they simply hope it resolves itself.
    Jump ahead now to the OFL report lets not miss some text that has not carried much weight, yes we believe some of these rebates have occurred but the more important portion of their statement should cause one to fume.
    In the article there is mention of employers hiding injuries, employees being coursed not to file a claim so one the employer does not lose their rebate and reason two, the employers rate does not increase. I have heard ( and as usual out of fear this person wont come forward) of some pretty appalling actions, In one case a young man with a broken back was brought a laptop and told he was to enter data as a form of light duty. The shock here is this was brought to his Hospital room during recovery . A few more stories from injured workers with broken bones being picked up by their Forman’s and paid a salary while recovering. When asked why? They were told if they file a claim they would never work again. Now that is the employer, I am also aware of injured workers when going through our medical system telling the medical staff they were hurt at home so they would not have to deal with the WSIB and are more able to receive an income from their unions or private coverage.
    So tell me how many union reps are aware of this going on and have done nothing, Now we see the OFL making the same determination. How many lives must be destroyed or even worse how many people must die before these useless Politician’s begin to act for the people of this Province. Last I checked WSIB is not a Province. I have been told by a former MPP that no party wishes to be the Party to get involved. The issue of the unfunded liability is to large. Who would be responsible for that liability. The tax payer? No Government wants to turn to it’s people and admit they screwed up.

  6. Derek Kite says:

    I’m curious what the rates are. I just got my assessment for 2015 from WorksafeBC. I’m commercial refrigeration and a/c, and my net rate per $100 is $1.76. How does that compare to Ontario or other provinces? I got an adjustment down of 30 cents due to claims history (none).