CLAC Participates in WSIB Review
In May, the province announced that it would undertake a thorough review of the workplace insurance system and, in particular, would evaluate whether best practices can be drawn from workers compensation systems in other jurisdictions and from the insurance industry. CLAC had a chance to meet with people overseeing the review. In July, CLAC also submitted a formal written submission in which it presented 12 recommendations for the reviewers’ consideration.
In 2018, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) announced that it had eliminated its unfunded liability, which had grown to an astounding $11.4 billion gap between the funds available to WSIB versus the cost of existing and projected future claims. The funding gap was eliminated almost 10 years ahead of schedule, and WSIB attributes its success to increased employer premium costs, better-than-expected returns on its investments, and improved return-to-work rates for injured workers. After eliminating the liability, WSIB introduced a 30 percent reduction to premium rates charged to employers.
Critics have noted that from 2010 to 2015, WSIB reduced its prescription drug costs by 30 percent and that during the same period, the acceptance rate for permanent injury claims was reduced by the same proportion. They allege that injured workers have borne the cost of WSIB getting its financial house in order, and that the premium reduction offered to employers in 2019 was short-sighted.
In preparation for CLAC’s submission to the province’s 2019 WSIB review, we drew on the experience of CLAC members, and also on the unique and expert insights of CLAC’s WSIB coordinator, David Robins. David has been specializing in WSIB appeals for CLAC members for nearly 20 years. His experience in helping members navigate through WSIB allowed us to point to particular pinch points in the system that all amount to unreasonable and significant delay in the processing of claims.
In addition to insights about how to improve expediency of appeals, CLAC also asked the reviewers to consider making it mandatory that all unions provide representation for injured workers. Nonunion workers can seek support from the Office of the Worker Advisor, but this service is not available to workers who are members of a union. While CLAC does provide expert support and legal representation for members who’ve experienced a workplace injury, that is not the case with all unions. In too many cases, injured workers who are unionized do not receive adequate representation from their union, which should be a legal duty.
CLAC’s submission and recommendations can be found on Your Voice (clac.ca/yourvoice) under the Policy Briefs section (“Delays, Inconsistencies Create Stress for Injured Workers”). The final report is due by December 2019.