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Business groups join forces to push for WCB reform

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Issue:

Since the full cost of Workers’ Compensation is covered by employers, it is important to always look for ways to make the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) more affordable and accountable.

In fact, workers’ compensation systems are also very complex. Not surprisingly CFIB surveys reveal Saskatchewan business owners state that WCB and OH&S requirements are the most burdensome area of provincial regulations.

ActionCFIB co-founded a coalition of business groups interested in working together to recommend ways to improve the Board’s affordability and transparency.

COALITION PUSHES FOR WCB REFORM

group photo

Coalition of Business Groups meet with Hon. Don Morgan, Minister of Labour Relations & Workplace Safety

The coalition includes: the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME), North Saskatoon Business Association (NSBA), Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF), Restaurants Canada, Saskatchewan Construction Association (SCA) and the Saskatchewan Hotel & Hospitality Association (SHHA).

  • March 1, 2017: The Coalition sent a letter to Hon. Don Morgan, Minister of Labour Relations & Workplace Safety encouraging the Saskatchewan Government to initiate the process of reforming and modernizing the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board.
  • March 30, 2017: The Coalition met with Minister Morgan to discuss the need for the WCB to fix its funding policy and stop overcharging employers, as well as the need for a new governance model and appeal process.
  • May 23, 2017: The Government of Saskatchewan listened to employers! They invited feedback from stakeholders on the recommendations from the Workers’ Compensation Act Committee of Review that would require legislative amendments, including:
    • Board Structure & Governance: Modernize the Board structure to reflect the diversity of skill sets required to guide the work of the WCB.
    • Appeals: Significantly reduce the average number of days to a decision and communicate clearly with appellants throughout the process.

 

Note: The deadline for feedback is June 30, 2017. Legislative amendments will be drafted in time for the fall 2017 session of the Legislative Assembly.

Specifically, CFIB recommended:

  • New Governance Model:  Saskatchewan currently is the only jurisdiction where Board members are full-time employees. CFIB believes it is time for change to ensure a modern, efficient and effective Board. We therefore recommended the full-time Board be replaced with a multi-stakeholder, part-time Board, which would become a governance Board without any Appeal function.
  • Create an Independent Avenue for Appeals: Given that Saskatchewan is the only jurisdiction where the final level of appeal is decided by the Board, we believe changes to the current structure to the final level of appeal should be external to the WCB – similar to all other jurisdictions.

 

We recommended the creation of an Independent Avenue for Appeals. However, a full cost analysis and principles surrounding any recommendations should be provided to stakeholders to determine if it is more cost effective (e.g. potential impact on WCB premiums) to convert to an external appeal process which could be: a) An independent, arm’s length appeal bodies separate from other appeal bodies or b) Incorporated in another independent arm’s length appeal body (e.g. existing appeals/adjudication mechanisms already in Saskatchewan, such as the Automobile Injury Appeal Commission).

 

Next Steps:

We will continue to call for changes to: 

  • WCB’s Funding Strategy: Change the current targeted funding percentage from 105-120 per cent to maintaining a funding ratio (total assets over total liabilities) between 100-110 per cent.
  • WCB’s Surplus Funding Strategy: Rebate surplus monies when funded status rises above the threshold of 110 per cent, and rebate surplus in the year it is realized, not over a 5 year period.

 

Help us push for change by signing our Action Alert:  CFIB’s Action Alert: Urging WCB to fix its funding policy & stop overcharging employers!  Once signed, please return it by fax to (306) 359-7623 or scan and email it to [email protected].

Have questions about WCB? Please contact Business Resources at 1-888-234-2232 or email [email protected]

Not a member of CFIB yet?  JOIN CFIB today for more help and information.