The Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) has responded cautiously to the announcement from the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) that premium rates paid by employers will rise by 2.5 per cent in 2013, including the rates for the trucking, warehousing and courier sectors.
On the one hand, the 2.5-per cent increase is a lower than WSIB officials were signalling earlier in the year when discussing a new revenue strategy to address the board’s ballooning unfunded liability.
“The members aren’t usually impressed when we tell them it could have been worse,” says OTA president David Bradley. “But we do feel that the consultative approach taken by new WSIB chair, Elizabeth Witmer was constructive; she clearly understands that employers in the trucking sector and elsewhere have little breathing space when it comes to increased payroll costs in the current economic environment. She is someone we can work with.”
OTA has been engaged on policy review projects undertaken by the WSIB including the Jim Thomas Benefits Policy Review and stakeholder consultation on employer classification, rate setting and experience rating led by special advisor Douglas Stanley. OTA’s WSIB Committee continues to provide guidance throughout these consultations and feedback on policy instruments that may be used or amended to meet the needs of the industry.
The association also acknowledged an announcement from Ontario labour minister, Linda Jeffrey that the provincial government would be moving forward with two amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA) once the Legislature returns to business that she says will help promote the long-term stability of the workers’ compensation system. Of particular interest, one of the proposed changes to the WSIA would, if passed, allow the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to review loss of earnings benefits after 72 months. Currently, benefits are generally ‘locked in’ after 72 months, even if an injured worker’s condition improves or they rejoin the workforce. Ontario is the only province in Canada to ‘lock in’ Loss of Earnings benefits after 72 months.