Mr. Graham Lane made a number of comments about the Workers Compensation Board in the May 14 edition of the Brandon Sun.
There are a number of factual errors and suggestions by Mr. Lane that require correction and clarification based on data published in the WCB annual report and elsewhere. I would like to take this opportunity to correct some of the inaccuracies contained in the article.
Mr. Lane states that employers will see higher payroll costs and hikes to premiums as a result of the rate model review and other recent changes, such as increases to maximum fines. On the contrary, the WCB’s recently released five-year plan for 2014-18 forecasts rate reductions, and, in addition, employers investing in safe work initiatives will be eligible for financial incentives as outlined in Manitoba’s Five-Year Plan for Workplace Injury and Illness Prevention.
Mr. Lane states that today’s average assessment rate for employers is $1.61 per $100 of assessable payroll. While that was the rate in 2010, it has been $1.50 since 2011 and is currently the third-lowest in Canada.
The article implies that claim duration is a problem in Manitoba, saying it is far in excess of private insurers. Although it is impossible to compare WCB data with that of private insurers as the latter is not public, the WCB’s claim duration is at a historic low. In 2013, the average claim duration was 32.7 days, down from 41 days in 2009.
The article also implies that injured workers must wait lengthy periods before they receive their first benefit, saying the wait “could easily stretch out a month.” The WCB has improved its timeliness significantly so that today, 70 per cent of claims are paid within two weeks, up from 55 per cent in 2006. In contrast, in 2002, only 30 per cent were paid within two weeks.
The WCB is currently undertaking a consultation as part of a review into the process for setting rates and is seeking views of both Manitoba workers and employers. The purpose of the review is to ensure that all employers are treated fairly, and to prioritize injury prevention by rewarding employers for safe workplaces while addressing concerns about claims suppression. Information about the consultation is available on our website.
It’s also important to note that our board of directors is made up of representatives of employers, workers and the public interest, ensuring all our stakeholder voices are heard when decisions are made at the WCB.
The WCB fulfils a valuable role in Manitoba, providing needed benefits for workers who are injured on the job and protecting employers from lawsuits.
Our vision, a trusted partner, insuring today and building a safer tomorrow, reflects the reality of the challenges ahead of us.
The WCB, as an institution, is as important today as it was 100 years ago when it was first established, based on principles developed by Justice William Meredith. Principles that are relevant today and continue to guide us as we shape the WCB of the future.
President and CEO, Workers Compensation Board Manitoba