Workplace Safety & Insurance Board
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|Government Agency overview overview|
|Formed||1914 (formerly the Workmen's Compensation Board)|
|Headquarters||Simcoe Place - 200 Front Street Toronto, Ontario|
|Government Agency overview executives|
The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB); French: Commission de la sécurité professionnelle et de l'assurance contre les accidents du travail) is Ontario's workplace compensation board (each province and territory in Canada has its own). As an agency of the Ontario government, the WSIB operates "at arm's length" from the Ministry of Labour and is solely funded by employer premiums, administration fees, and investment revenue. The WSIB is one of the largest compensation boards in North America and is primarily responsible for administering and enforcing the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA).
Over 100 years old, the WSIB covers over five million people in more than 300,000 workplaces across Ontario and works to promote health and safety in the workplace with a goal of one day having zero work-related injuries or illnesses.
Sir William Meredith is regarded as the founding father of the Workers' Compensation System in Ontario, and by extension, Canada. In 1910, Ontario appointed Sir William Meredith to head the first Royal Commission to study workers' compensation systems across the world and make recommendations. In 1913, Meredith presented his findings, and one year later, the Workmen's Compensation Board (now known as the WSIB) was formed.
By 1915, the Workmen's Compensation Act, sometimes referred to as the Historic Compromise was passed. The Act ensures that people are compensated for work-related injuries and occupational diseases and in turn, businesses cannot be sued by people who have become injured or ill at work. The Act was based on Sir William Meredith's five basic principles for a compassionate compensation system - still in place today, these are known as The Meredith Principles:
- No-fault compensation: workers are paid benefits regardless of how the injury occurred. The worker and employer waive the right to sue. There is no argument over responsibility or liability for an injury.
- Security of benefits: a fund is established to guarantee funds exist to pay benefits.
- Collective liability: employers share liability for workplace injury insurance and the total cost of the compensation system. All employers contribute to a common fund. Financial liability becomes their collective responsibility.
- Independent administration: organizations who administer workers’ compensation insurance are separate from government.
- Exclusive jurisdiction: only workers’ compensation organizations provide workers’ compensation insurance. All compensation claims are directed solely to the compensation board. The board is the decision-maker and final authority for all claims.
Business Owners (Schedule 1 and Schedule 2)
The WSIB differentiates between two types of employers, as set out in the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA):
Schedule 1 employers are primarily private companies (i.e., construction companies) and make up approximately 309,000 employer accounts at the WSIB. These businesses require compulsory coverage and pay premiums on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Their premiums are based on insurable earnings (employees' salaries) multiplied by a rate assigned to the business determined by the type of work they do (or their rate group).
Schedule 2 employers are often public organizations (i.e., municipalities) and make up approximately 550 employer accounts at the WSIB. These employers are individually liable, meaning the WSIB pays benefits directly to people injured or ill at work under Schedule 2 and are reimbursed by their employers for the cost of those benefits and the expense of administering them (administration fee).
Claims and Benefits
Every year, the WSIB receives approximately 250,000 claims and pays over $2.5 billion in benefits. Coverage can include full medical care for people injured at work and wage replacement for as long as necessary until they are able to return to work. In the event of a fatality, the WSIB works with the surviving spouse to provide financial help, assistance re-entering the workforce if necessary, and support to provide for the post-secondary education of dependent children.
It is important to report and claim benefits as soon as possible. People who have experienced a workplace injury or illness have 6 months from the date of the injury to claim their benefits with the WSIB. For a workplace illness, it is generally 6 months from the date of diagnosis. Following the injury or illness, if treatment is needed from a health professional (beyond first aid), the employer is obligated to report it to the WSIB by filling out a Form 7. If the injured or ill person subsequently loses time from work, they must report the injury or illness to the WSIB by filling out and submitting a Form 6.
People who are injured or become ill because of work also have rights and responsibilities under WSIA.
All staff in Ontario workplaces have the right to:
- Know about potential danger
- Participate in making their workplace safe
- Refuse unsafe work
All staff in Ontario workplaces have a responsibility to:
- Work safely
- Report unsafe work conditions
- Wear the right safety equipment for the job
The Claims Process
When a claim is reported, the WSIB registers the claim and assigns it a claim number - over 90% of eligibility claims are made within two weeks of claim registration. If the claim is allowed, the injured or ill person is contacted and the WSIB begins to collect information from the health care provider (if applicable) and the employer. At this time, the Eligibility Adjudicator will determine if a claim needs support and if it does, the claim will be sent to a dedicated team of Nurse Consultants and Return-to-Work Specialists. From here, a Case Manager, Return-to-Work Specialist and Nurse Consultant work with the workplace parties to arrange for return to work and recovery.
After reaching a high of $14.2 billion in 2011, the WSIB eliminated its Unfunded Liability (UFL) in Q2 2018, almost 10 years ahead of the legislated deadline of December 31, 2027. The UFL was the shortage between the money needed to pay future benefits to people injured at work for all established claims, and the money that was in the insurance fund. The elimination of the UFL was accomplished as a result of:
- Premiums exceeding those needed to cover claims and administrative costs
- Better than expected investment returns
- Fewer claims
- Better recovery and return to work
The WSIB's Board of Directors is composed of the Chair, the President and CEO, and seven to nine members, who are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. The Board governs the WSIB on:
- Workplace safety/reducing injury, disease and fatalities
- Administering the insurance plan
- Providing compensation and other benefits to injured workers and their survivors
- Facilitating workers' recovery, return to work and re-entry into the labour market