Surplus should be helping the people who need it most, says advocate
Groups representing injured workers gathered on Friday in Greater Sudbury, Ont., to protest how the Worker’s Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) distributes its surplus funds, says CBC.
“Currently, there's, I believe, more than $6 billion in the surplus […] They've managed to cut more than $2.3 billion every year from workers,” said T.T. Scott, a spokesperson for the Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre.
Scott claims that the WSIB has been cutting worker benefits to increase their aforementioned surplus. Though both employers and workers pay premiums with the WSIB, Scott says that employers pay reduced premiums while workers have been denied claims.
Speaking with CBC’s Markus Schwabe ahead of the rally, Scott said:
“They’ve managed to make the surplus from cutting workers’ benefits and cutting their funds that workers should be receiving to actually help them.
“It’s coming directly back from workers’ benefits who should directly be receiving more on their claims, more to help them compensate their issues, more to keep them out of poverty – and it’s being taken from them and put back in the surplus and given to employers. It’s helping the wealthy when it should be helping the people who need it the most.”
The WSIB recently announced that the average premium rate for Ontario businesses would be reduced, reported World Republic News. The rate will go down from $1.37 to $1.30 in 2022 – a reduction of 5.1 per cent.
This change was announced at the WSIB general meeting on Oct 6.
2021 premium rates were held at the same level as the previous year, in an effort to support businesses throughout the pandemic.
“Our strong financial performance allows us to ease the pressure on Ontario businesses during these difficult times while continuing to help people recover and return to work.
This is the fifth time in the last six years we have been able to reduce the average premium rate, confirming Ontario as a jurisdiction with among the most generous benefits in North America at a competitive cost,” said Elizabeth Witmer, chair of the WSIB, in a press release.
The WSIB is operating with a funding surplus of around 119 per cent. Currently, the WSIB is not permitted to distribute surplus to employers.
New legislation proposed by the Ontario Government would allow the allow the WSIB to distribute surpluses when its fund reaches 115 per cent surplus and even require the WSIB to distribute surpluses if the fund were to reach 125 per cent surplus.