Unsafe companies being rebated millions of dollars by WSIB: OFL report

Experience rating programs provide financial incentives for companies to suppress claims, says labour group
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 11/24/2014

A new report by the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) says Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is rebating millions of dollars each year to companies found guilty of offences that have resulted in workers being killed in work-related accidents.

“The WSIB is re-victimizing workers and their families by handing offending corporations millions of dollars in premium rebates,” said Sid Ryan, president of the OFL. “These CEOs shouldn’t be receiving rebates — they should be going to jail.”

The shocking pattern of WSIB payments is documented in the OFL report, Rewarding Offenders: Report on How Ontario’s Workplace Safety System Rewards Employers Despite Workplace Deaths and Injuries, written by labour lawyer Joel Schwartz.

Over the three-year period between 2011 and 2013, 135 employers that had been convicted of offences under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) were granted rebates on their premiums by the WSIB. Seventy-eight of the 135 (almost 58 per cent) received nearly $15 million in rebates in the very same year they had committed their offences, the report found.

In one case, a 57-year-old electrician employed by Goldcorp Canada was killed in a workplace accident in 2011. The company was fined $350,000 after pleading guilty to not implementing proper safety procedures, but the next year it received a $2.7 million WSIB premium rebate, an astounding amount seven times higher than the fine it paid for the worker’s death.

The rebates were made through the WSIB’s controversial “experience rating” programs, which are intended to provide a financial incentive to employers for improving worker’s health and safety. Instead, the program provides financial incentives for companies to suppress claims, said the OFL.

“The WSIB should scrap its experience rating system in all its forms and the resulting savings should be reinvested into workplace health and safety, as well as compensation for injured workers and their families,” added Ryan.

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