Mitigating Hazards and Protecting People

Since the 1990's Canada's manufacturing sector has witnessed a relative decline especially in this country's traditional labour-intensive manufacturing industries including especailly the textile, clothing, footwear and leather goods sectors. In fact, Canada's service sector has been the only source of real, continuous, positive employment growth since the recession plagued 1990's.

Related to this trend, the number of work related injuries continued to decline arkedly between the years 1982 and 2009.Where 43.8 out of 1,000 workers were reported injured due to the demands of their work in 1982, by 2009 this number had decreased to a fugure of only 15.5 per thousand. While a number of factors were at play, this reduction can largely be viewed as a testament to the increased traction of occupational health and safety awareness and enforcement programs from coast to coast that has been reinforced by the gradual emergence of a national employment trend away from high risk manufacturing activities in favour of lower risk service sector employment.

 

799,296

Number of WCB claims processed by Canada's worker's compensation boards in 2009 

 Worker's Compensation and Cost Containment 

Despite marked improvements in Canada's overall health and safety performance as evidenced by continually declining occupational injury rates, the cost of dealing with the day-to-day consequences of workplace injuries and illnesses has none-the-less continued to rise to an amount of over $ 5 billion annually. Worker's compensation costs represent a significant challenge to the thirteen provinces and territories in Canada with the legal responsibility to provide insurance and workplace compensation benefits to injured or ill workers and their families. For instance in 2009, Canada's worker's compensation boards collectively fielded some 799,296 claims.

Faced with steady cost increases, most of Canada's provincial and territorial worker's compensation boards have attempted to introduce proactive measures with which to better contain these costs including rewarding those employers with better than average safety and accident records through rebates and rate reductions and punishing those employers with the worst safety records through the imposition of equally aggressive rate increases and other punitive and financial sanctions. The fact that a direct causal relationship exists between safe behaviours and occupational injury rates is one of the driving factors behind current attempts by provincial and territorial worker's compensation boards to direct organizational behaviour by providing rebates and other incentives to those companies that are able to continually and demonstrably reduce the number of compensation claims generated per quarter and per year and paid out in excess of benefits.

 

$11.80  Billion

Estimated unfunded liability amount in the province of Ontario derived from the past usage of the worker’s compensation system in 2009   

Faced with steady cost increases, most of Canada's provincial and territorial worker's compensation boards have attempted to introduce proactive measures with which to better contain these costs including rewarding those employers with better than average safety and accident records through rebates and rate reductions and punishing those employers with the worst safety records through the imposition of equally aggressive rate increases and other punitive and financial sanctions.

The fact that a direct causal relationship exists between safe behaviours and occupational injury rates is one of the driving factors behind current attempts by provincial and territorial worker's compensation boards to direct organizational behaviour by providing rebates and other incentives to those companies that are able to continually and demonstrably reduce the number of compensation claims generated per quarter and per year and paid out in excess of benefits. 

One of the more visible signs of retrenchment in the worker's compensation system in Canada has been the reduction in benefit payments from 90% to 85% in places like Ontario and the imposition of a "time out" phase of several days to several weeks in which otherwise eligible workers with compensable injuries must bear the cost of these injuries alone.

Worker's compensation benefits now extend to feature a wide spectrum of medical and rehabilitative services including medical and surgical care, hospitalization, nursing care, drugs and supplies, physical and occupational therapy and the provision and maintenance of prostheses. The province of Ontario for instance still faces an unfunded liability derived from the past usage of the worker’s compensation system that was nearly $11.8 Billion in 2009.   

 

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