WSIB (Ontario) on a claims-denial binge as they transfer $285 million into their investment fund
The WSIB is stashing away hundreds of millions of dollars by denying claims at a stupendous rate, Alec Caldwell argues
By Alec Caldwell
Note: The WSIB has responded to this article, saying that the claims allowed rate has not changed. Click here to see that post.
The folks at Ontario’s WSIB are saving a tidy sum of money these days as they spin stories of fewer accidents occurring. And how improved health and safety programs are the cause.
The WSIB is stashing away money by throwing legitimate claimants under the bus.
Evidence to dispute what WSIB says about the savings from improved health and safety programs comes from the very people who police Ontario’s Occupational Health and Safety Act: the Ministry of Labour (MOL).
An MOL-commissioned survey shows that WSIB’s “claims allowed” rate fell from just under 2 per cent of employed workers in 2004 to just over 1 per cent in 2013. Meanwhile, the number of fatalities and critical injuries per year showed essentially no change.
The MOL definition of a critical injury includes fractures to limbs, loss of blood and other non-life-threatening injuries that can occur with slips, trips and falls.
So, when fatalities and these critical injuries show no change, why would claims go down from about 2 per cent to about 1 per cent? Claims denial!
It’s all about reducing the “unfunded liability” at the WSIB, these days. (Editor’s Note: That debt-to-the-future is $7.5-billion, according to John Slinger in an email of Nov. 10. Alec’s original version of this story said it was “somewhere around $9-billion).”
The “unfunded liability” is the amount of money the WSIB owes or will owe claimants in the future, versus funds/assets/investments that the WSIB possesses.
So the WSIB has been turning around its balance sheet to the tune of billions of dollars. Never mind that that money is needed by legitimate claimants.
The WSIB’s rates absolutely dwarf those of the Workers Comp systems in other provinces. While the WSIB is now in its third year of enjoying all the extra revenues it has been raking in since it made independent owner/operators into mandatory WSIB payees, under Bill 119.
It’s been quite a “culture change” at the WSIB.
The man in charge of the culture change, I. David Marshall, a former international banker, diplomat and senior Canadian government executive, collected $2-million from his first contract as WSIB’s top dog. He’s now he is working on his second contract. He earned a $400,000 bonus a year ago, for being so good at his job.
With revenues exceeding expenses in the first quarter of this year, WSIB transferred $285 million into its investment funds. Meanwhile, claimants are being pushed to the edge (See report).
Workers with denied claims are doing what they can to get publicity, but it’s an uphill battle. No matter how many Facebook pages workers put up, the general public remains oblivious to the issue.
One man, Jimmy Valgak, went on a hunger strike at Queen’s Park. Didn’t hear much about that, did you?
One Hamilton, Ont. doctor, Dr. Brenda Steinnagel, as reported in the Toronto Star on Sept. 22, is suing WSIB and her former employer, claiming she was fired when she wouldn’t deliver a medical opinion about a worker that suited the purposes of the WSIB.
The WSIB is a disgrace. Families are crushed while the bureaucrats fatten themselves on contractors’ payments. There is occasional coverage of the WSIB’s behaviour in the mainstream media, but it’s hardly considered a scandal.
It is a scandal.
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