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Government plans to take $400 annually from every employee -- and give it to employers

The government plans to cut employer Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premiums $2.4 billion per year.  This is funded by cuts to workers compensation, as discussed below.  Here's the plan to cut employer premiums laid out in the 2016 Budget documents:
The WSIB has taken significant steps to reduce costs, and its finances have been improved by growth in investment returns and insurable payrolls. After hitting a high of $14.2 billion in 2011, the unfunded liability was $6.8 billion as of the WSIB’s 2015 third quarter that ended September 30, 2015.  Due to progress made to date, employer premiums have not been increased for three years. In its ‘2015 Economic Statement,’ the WSIB estimated that when the unfunded liability component is removed from the premium rate, it will be able to deliver $2.4 billion annually in premium reductions. This would represent an average premium rate reduction of about 40 per cent, with the average premium rate declining from $2.46 per $100 of payroll to $1.40 to $1.50 in 2015 dollars. It would also make Ontario one of the most competitive provinces in terms of workplace insurance costs, while it remains the province with the lowest allowed lost-time injury rates. (My emphasis -- DA)

That's a cut for an employer paying the minimum wage of close to $300 a year for every full time minimum wage employee, and more for employees paid more than the minimum wage.   

In fact, the payout to employers has already begun to happen, even before the unfunded liability is paid off.  Workers Compensation premium rates have been cut 9% in just two years, 2017 and 2018.  This cut will hand over $760 million to employers in 2018 alone.  
With cuts to allowed lost time injury claims, the fall in the unfunded liability ("UFL") is happening more quickly than planned, with the WSIB UFL falling about $2 billion a year. 
This transfer of wealth to employers is coming out of compensation payments to workers. With about 6 million employees in the province, $2.4 billion would mean an average annual transfer from every worker in the province to employers of about $400 per year. 
This transfer of wealth has been achieved through major cuts to lost time injury claims allowed by the WSIB.  Allowed lost time injuries in Ontario have been going down for many years in all industries including hospitals, long-term care, and health care generally.  The all-industry allowed rate has been cut in half in 14 years.  The health care rate has fallen almost as quickly.  

Workers Compensation lost time injuries -- allowed -- health care -- all industries

Notably after years of cuts, there was a slight bump up in 2016  (although even in 2016 benefit payments decreased another $80 million, or 3.4%, continuing years of decline in benefit payments).  

Only pressure on the government and employers will force a continued rebound in allowed lost time injuries. 


workers compensation financial year highlights 2016

Meanwhile Violence Goes Up For Health Care Workers:  Despite the general trend, there has been a significant increase in allowed injury claims for “assaults, violent acts, harassment” in health care. 

In the three years 2011 to 2013 the average for this category was 634, while for the three years 2014, 2015, and 2016, the average was 744, a 17% increase.  (In fact in 2016, there was 808 allowed lost time claims in this area.)  Homes for nursing care saw a 14% increase over the same three-year periods,  but hospitals saw a 25% increase in allowed lost time injury claims for assaults, violent acts and harassment. 

Health care has by far the most allowed lost time injuries for “assaults, violent acts, harassment” of any industry.  About 30% of all such allowed claims occur at health care employers -- 34% when including health care workers working with self-insured ["schedule 2"] employers. This is  about three times more than the percentage of health care workers in the total workforce. 

Women the main victims:  The overwhelming majority of the victims of “assaults, violent acts, harassment” in health care were women ― 83.4% of victims of assaults or harassment in health care were women (as measured by allowed lost time injuries).


The major types of allowed lost time injuries affecting hospital workers were as follows in 2016:
  •      Sprains and strains (1,043 allowed lost time injuries) 
  •      Bruises, contusions, abrasions, scratches, fractures, and concussions (345)
  •      Infectious and parasitic diseases (120) 
More care-related injuries:  For hospital workers, exposure to harmful substances or environments is a significant source of injury -- 11% of allowed lost time injuries.  Notably, however exposure to harmful substances and environments accounted for 33% of allowed lost time injuries in homes for nursing care  compared to just 7% in all-industries. 


An important aspect of hospital and long-term care injuries appears to be that many arise from the provision of care in (stressful) circumstances where people are infectious or acting irrationally.

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