WSIB Review of Experience Rating Program
Monday, March 31, 2008
at 4:03:54 PM
ISSUE #1 – FOR EMPLOYERS IN ONTARIO, CANADA
WSIB REVIEW OF EXPERIENCE RATING PROGRAM
On March 10, 2008, Steve Mahoney the chair of the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board announced that he had directed his staff to conduct a review of the Boards Experience Rating Program (more commonly known as NEER).
Mahoney’s response seems to be in direct reaction to a series of articles published in a major Toronto newspaper alleging that employers were being rewarded in the form of rebates from the WSIB, despite the fact that an employer’s worksite had a fatality
More significant than his announcement of the review, however, was his comment that “if a company is responsible for a workplace fatality they won’t be eligible for a rebate from the WSlB.” The significance of his comment lies in the fact that he sees companies as “responsible” for fatalities. This view goes directly against the fundamental “no-fault” principle upon which the workers’ compensation system was founded more than 94 years ago.
To understand the importance of the “no-fault” concept one must go back to the inception of the system in 1914. In 1914, Justice Meredith tabled the foundation of the system we know today for compensating injured workers. The basis of his recommendations was the fundamental principle that neither an injured worker nor the employer should be considered to be “at fault” for accidents or diseases arising out of, or in the course of, the employment. The objective was to eliminate the issue of liability for workplace injuries and remove the determination of payment from the court system. The “historic compromise”, as it was known, removed the notion of fault from the compensation process. It allowed workers whose injuries were determined to be work related immediate payment without need to resort to court actions. In exchange, employers were granted legal protection from lawsuits. In other words, neither the worker nor the employer was to be considered at “fault” for the accident or resulting injuries.
Mr. Mahoney’s comments go in direct contravention to this long established principle. Employers bought into the system based on its “no fault” principle. The question now on the table is whether that “historic compromise” is being unilaterally changed by the WSIB.