Modernize WSIB and Provide Relief for Job Creators: Scott
13 July 2012
“The Hole in Ontario’s Budget: WSIB Unfunded Liability.”
- A report by the C.D. Howe Institute (March 22, 2012)
QUEEN’S PARK – Ontario can be a leader in private-sector job creation and unrivaled in economic growth, but businesses need relief if they’re going to succeed – this calls for a frank discussion about modernizing Ontario’s workplace insurance system, Ontario PC Natural Resources Critic Laurie Scott said today.
PC Leader Tim Hudak recently launched the Paths to Prosperity: Flexible Labour Markets white paper which proposes a bold revision of outdated labour laws and workplace regulations. One idea would allow private companies to compete with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to provide workplace insurance coverage. This would allow business owners options on the best coverage and plans and trigger a modernization of Ontario’s workplace insurance system, which was once at the vanguard of public policy.
“WSIB premiums are necessary but they’re also a tax on job creators,” Scott said. “The goal should be to keep premiums reasonable while still meeting workers’ needs, but under the McGuinty Liberals the WSIB has been completely mismanaged and has failed this goal,” Scott added.
The WSIB currently has a massive unfunded liability estimated at $14.5 billion. This entire system of workers’ compensation in Ontario is at risk while businesses are on the hook. The Auditor General, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and the C.D. Howe Institute, which reported that the unfunded liability could be closer to $20 billion, have called for urgent action to resolve this alarming threat to the economy.
Scott said the Liberals are out of ideas on how to fix the WSIB. Their only plan is to keep jacking up premiums which amounts to a further tax increase on employers and will lead to more unemployment. It’s a short term way out and fails to address the underlying issue: the WSIB is being mismanaged. It’s another example of the Liberals avoiding the tough decisions that must be made.
“Between higher taxes, skyrocketing energy bills and the likelihood that WSIB premiums are going to shoot up, the McGuinty Liberals are fuelling the jobs crisis by making it too expensive to do business here in Ontario.
“The status quo approach to the WSIB doesn’t work. That’s why our white paper proposes bold reforms and new ideas to fix it,” Scott said.
One solution is to allow the private sector to compete for providing insurance coverage. Most U.S. states already allow private insurers to compete with state insurance funds for the provision of workers’ compensation. Private insurers would provide Ontario employers the opportunity to choose which company, policy and price, works best for them. The WSIB would remain an insurer of last resort for those businesses that can’t obtain coverage elsewhere.
Scott concluded, “If we want to ensure that Ontario is the best place to find a good job, retain and attract the very best talent, we need to re-examine our outdated workplace rules. One place to start is with the WSIB.”