When it comes to workers’ compensation and small business in Ontario, there may be hope for a little less red tape in the near future. New Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) chair Elizabeth Witmer recently held a joint roundtable with CFIB in Toronto—the first of six scheduled for this spring to take place across Ontario—to hear from employers on what they need from her agency to run their business.
There’s plenty of room for improved performance by Witmer’s agency, according to a recent report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) on workers’ compensation systems. The review found Ontario scored lower than any other province or territory on the issue of long-term financial sustainability and customer service.
According to the CFIB, the roundtables were spurred in part by concern among business owners that their issues, including rising premiums on payroll to fund the compensation system, were not being addressed by the WSIB.
“Rising employer premiums and headaches that come from excessive WSIB regulations are making it harder for small employers to grow their business and create jobs,” says CFIB’s Ontario vice president Satinder Chera. “Thankfully, with new leadership at the WSIB, there finally seems to be a willingness to address these concerns.”
A number of issues were discussed during the roundtable, reports the CFIB, including the WSIB’s $14 billion unfunded liability, which is driving up premiums, and Bill 119, which imposed mandatory WSIB coverage on business owners and contractors in the construction industry in January.
“I am getting an earful from members who feel that law-abiding businesses are being punished because of a few rotten apples,” adds Chera. “CFIB looks forward to working with Elizabeth Witmer, who has a proven track record of helping small businesses.”