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WorkSafeNB: Restore Balance

May 31, 2017

WorkSafeNB: Restore Balance

The New Brunswick Federation of Labour and its partners want balance restored at WorkSafeNB to help workers injured or killed at work. Learn more below.

Worksafe NB: Restore Balance

FACT SHEET FOR WORKSAFENB

ASSESSMENT RATES & ACCIDENT FUND

  • In the past 25 years, the average assessment rate for employers to obtain no-fault insurance through WorkSafeNB has dramatically decreased (see table 1).
  • Between 1992 and 2016 the assessment rates for employers has decreased by 51% while the cost of living has increased over the same time period by 34%.
  • The increased assessment rate for employers in 2017 of $1.48 per $100 of payroll is still 34% lower than the assessment rates were in 1992.
  • The reduction in the assessment rates was achieved by reducing benefits for workers who were injured or killed on the job.
  • By 1992, the Workers’ Compensation accident fund investments reached a point of being underfunded due to a recession in the Canadian economy. These extenuating circumstances resulted in benefits for injured workers being drastically reduced in order to keep the contribution costs for employers down. It was believed the benefits for injured workers would be restored once the fund returned to 100%. This never happened.
  • In 2014 and 2015 the accident fund stood at 137% and 123% respectively, but instead of using the surplus to restore reduced and eliminated benefits, employers were given rebates of $38.7 million in 2016 and $20.7 million in 2017 for a total of $59.4 million.
  • New Brunswick employers pay one of the lowest average assessment rates in Canada (see table 2).

 

THREE-DAY WAITING PERIOD

  • When an employee is injured on the job and is unable to work, they must serve a three-day waiting period without pay before they begin to receive compensation.
  • The three-day period is an issue labour has sought to eliminate. At best, it is no more than a cost-saving move for employers and, at worst, forces many employees to conceal injuries or not report them as the potential loss of income is too great.
  • Employers also suffer from the three-day wait period should employees go to work injured to avoid loss of pay for that period. Productivity can suffer and potential safety issues do not get addressed.
  • Most provinces and territories have eliminated their waiting period, only Nova Scotia and New Brunswick remain. Nova Scotia has reduced theirs to two days.
  • Despite recommendations from WorkSafeNB Board members and during reviews conducted over the past 25 years, the three-day waiting period remains intact.
  • The removal of the three-day waiting period could have been afforded by keeping employer rates stable rather than offering a reduction at times when the accident fund was performing well.
  • Human resources consulting and technology company Morneau Shepell estimates the cost of eliminating the three-day waiting period at somewhere between $27-63 million.
  • In 2010, the rate was $2.08 per $100 of payroll and there was a significant drop in 2015 to $1.11. That is a savings of more than $87 million, more than enough to cover the high-end estimate on the three-day wait.
  • Every one cent in the assessment rate is equal to $900,000. This means that if employers were still paying the same rates as 1992, there would be approximately $69.3 million more per year in WorkSafeNB funds.

BALANCE

  • Bill 15, An Act to Amend the Workers’ Compensation Act, and the proposed legislative changes that were presented in February 2017 would equal out to approximately $100 million in savings for employers according to WorkSafeNB.
  • Employers have been the main beneficiary of changes be it in assessment rates or legislative changes during the past two decades.

Table 1 – New Brunswick Assessment Rates by Year (per $100 of payroll)

 

 Year Rate
1992 $2.25
1993 $2.19
. . . . . .
2008 $2.04
2009 $2.01
2010 $2.08
2011 $2.02
2012 $1.70
2013 $1.44
2014 $1.21
2015 $1.11
2016 $1.11
2017 $1.48

 

Citation: Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada. (http://awcbc.org/)

Table 2 – Average Assessment Rates by Province and Year (per $100 of payroll)

 

Province  2015 2016 2017
Newfoundland and Labrador $2.45 $2.20 $2.06
Prince Edward Island $1.79 $1.77 $1.70
Nova Scotia $2.65 $2.65 $2.65
New Brunswick $1.11 $1.11 $1.48
Québec $1.94 $1.84 $1.77
Ontario $2.46 $2.46 $2.43
Manitoba $1.30 $1.25 $1.10
Saskatchewan $1.46 $1.34 $1.24
Alberta $0.97 $1.02 $1.02
British Columbia $1.70 $1.70 $1.65
Yukon $1.90 $1.85 $1.87
Northwest Territories and Nunavut $2.00 $2.00 $2.00

 

Citation: Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada. (http://awcbc.org/)