WorkSafeBC sitting on a $2.5 billion surplus while small businesses need cost relief
Vancouver, July 24, 2023 – If WorkSafeBC rebated their excess funds, it would give a $2.5 billion boost to BC businesses, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s latest research snapshot entitled Funding Fairness: State of Workers’ Compensation Funding. WorkSafeBC’s surplus accounts for over 80 per cent of the surpluses from overfunded boards across Canada, which total $3 billion.
For over eight years, CFIB has advocated for surplus rebates and delivered nearly 7,000 petitions signed by small business owners to WorkSafeBC’s board. WorkSafeBC is currently 146% funded, exceeding the upper limit of the board's target funding ratio of 130%. Rebating even a portion of the $2.5 billion surplus would not endanger WorkSafeBC's financial sustainability and would provide much needed cost relief to struggling small businesses.
“WorkSafeBC continues to hold onto billions in extra money, while over half of small businesses (61%) are still carrying pandemic-related debt, at an average of $100,236. Getting excess WorkSafeBC money back to small businesses would be game-changing,” said Emily Boston, BC policy analyst. “BC businesses could reinvest the funds or use them to keep up with inflation, maintain jobs or pay down their pandemic-related debt.”
CFIB calls on WorkSafeBC and the BC government to follow other provinces lead
Ontario, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island have already returned their 2021 surplus funding to small businesses in their province through direct rebates of $1.2 billion, $95 million and $22 million, respectively. These provinces have also rebated surplus funds while reducing or maintaining their average premium rates. Ontario remains the first and only province to legislate a mandatory rebate distribution when the funding is above 125%.
To ensure fairness for small businesses, CFIB is calling on all boards to:
- Rebate surplus funds to employers or lower employer premiums, if funding ratio exceeds its target funding, with a stronger preference for a rebate to eligible employers.
- Legislate surplus distribution policies.
- Implement mandatory distribution policies where none exist.
“Obviously, workers’ compensation systems need to be adequately resourced to continue the important work of supporting workers and making workplaces safer. But why should boards have more employer money than they need, while small businesses—the backbone of the Canadian economy—are still struggling?” said Duncan Robertson, CFIB policy analyst and co-author of the snapshot. “The source of funding for the boards comes directly from employer-paid premiums. So, it’s only fair for the boards to give back the excess money.”
BC business owners can sign CFIB’s petition to WorkSafeBC to rebate the surplus.
For media enquiries or interviews, please contact:
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, CFIB
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is Canada’s largest association of small and medium-sized businesses with 97,000 members (9,700 in BC) across every industry and region. CFIB is dedicated to increasing business owners’ chances of success by driving policy change at all levels of government, providing expert advice and tools, and negotiating exclusive savings. Learn more at cfib.ca.