Workers comp premiums hurting the economy: employers

Diane
Diane Crocker
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Richard Alexander is the executive director of Newfoundland and Labrador Employer’s Council. Today he will present a report on a study the council commissioned on workers compensation premiums at a Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade meeting.

CORNER BROOK  Workers compensation premiums have been a big issue for the Newfoundland and Labrador Employer’s Council for some time, and Richard Alexander said the issue can only be addressed through legislative changes.

Alexander, executive director of the Employer’s Council, is meeting with members on the west coast this week and today will present a report on a study the council commissioned on the issue during a Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade meeting.

“The Impact of High Worker’s Compensation Premiums on Newfoundland and Labrador,” by University of Toronto economist Morley Gunderson, quantifies the excessive premiums paid by Newfoundland employers and the impacts those premiums have on employers, employees and the province.

Talk about change

He said the council has been involved in talking about changes to the Workplace Health, Safety, and Compensation Commission for 20 years and has come to the conclusion that what can be done within the confines of the legislation is limited, so  the legislation needs to be changed.

Alexander said the study’s release is timely as the province has announced a statutory review of the workers compensation system.

The study has already been released on the east coast and seen by the commission and members of government.

The council also plans to present it to members in central and Labrador.

Over the last 20 years, Alexander said workers compensation premiums have fluctuated anywhere from 33 to 89 per cent higher than the national average.

The current figure is about 42 per cent higher than the Canadian average.

In response to why that is, Alexander said “the simplest answer to that is that our system is more expensive.”

He said Newfoundland and Labrador has the largest percentage of workforce that is covered in the country, has trouble with injured workers returning to work in a reasonable amount of time and that there are people who qualify for benefits here who would never qualify in another province.

The impacts of the high premiums for businesses include investment and the ability to expand and compete with competitors from jurisdictions that don’t have excessive premiums.

For the broader community, he said, the high premiums put a downward pressure on wages, reduce employment opportunities, drive up the costs of goods and services, affect investments and the gross domestic product (GDP).

Alexander said any recommendations to improve the system need to ensure that the levels of benefits provided now are protected.

“We’re not interested in seeing cuts to injured worker benefits, but what we are interested in seeing is fundamental legislative change that gives the commission the legislative tools to be able to control costs, cut wastage and improve efficiencies within the system so that every dollar that goes into the workers compensation system is used in the most efficient and prudent manner.”

Organizations: Newfoundland and Labrador Employer, Greater Corner Brook Board of Trade, University of Toronto Workplace Health Compensation Commission

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • JC
    February 09, 2013 - 15:07

    I agree that workman's comp. is a great benefit , one of the problems I have with it is there are too many people out there that want to stay on it even though they don't need to any more. I know a man who has been on it for years and years, his problem is a bad back. However he can cut more wood in a day than most loggers. He cuts all his own firewood sells some extra cleans driveways etc,, but is unable to WORK at a real job.. Somehow he lies his way through the system. Yet I know others who work from a wheel chair all their lives. As long as we have people like him (bad back guy) and there are lots of them out there, it will get no better.

  • Newfoundlander
    January 02, 2013 - 00:51

    The government and its agencies bankrupt the businesses who fund them with taxes, fees and costs associated with keeping up to all their regulations . . The more money businesses pump into the government the less money pumped into our economy. . . I wonder how long it will last

  • Newfoundlander
    January 02, 2013 - 00:35

    The government and its agencies bankrupt the businesses who fund them with taxes, fees and costs associated with keeping up to all their regulations . . The more money businesses pump into the government the less money pumped into our economy. . . I wonder how long it will last

  • David
    November 08, 2012 - 08:33

    There are lots of things hurting the economy here....in the broadest sense, giving money to people for not working is the most popular career here. Governemnt jobs is the only growth industry, and productivity here would likely measure as negative, once all the costs were tallied.

  • Mike
    November 08, 2012 - 07:27

    The problem here is twofold. I agree that Occupational Health and Safety as well as Worker's Compensation legislation needs to be revised and improved. However, employers have much to do in improving their safety programs. All employers must strive to achieve zero incidents. If an employee isn't hurt there is no claim. As well, abuse of the system needs to be curtailed with mandatory implementation of modified duties, early return to work plans, and mandatory access to physiotherapists within 24 hours of the incident occurring. Be Safe!

    • Trish Dodd
      November 19, 2012 - 09:51

      In response to David comments " that giving money to people for not working..." Dave, please also look at WHSCC website for Legislation and Policy. you cannot compare being injured as being paid for not working. Please read the Policy regarding Earning Loss on the sitee In response to Mikes' comments re abuse of the system and his recomendation, please go to www.whscc.nl.ca and look and the Law of Early and safe RTW etc is already mandatory by the Act. Please read the Polcies that are listed to interpret the Legislation. The abuse lies with the employer who does not follow the Law. If the worker refuses a return to work, they are found in non-cooperation and there wage loss( 80% of net, which means that WHSCC takes off another 20% as a disincientive for injured workers to stay off work.) Mike, the Laws are there. Please undestand that an injury is not only an incident, an incident could be "falling off a building" so severity of injuries are not all the same.Refer to definition of Injury in the WHSCC Legislation. It is more than an incident! PHYSIO within 24 hours? You can not be aware of what paperwork has to be sent to WHSCC b4 an injury gets accepted for medical treatment to begin Please read the legislation and policy , if you have internet access. Lets understand the system b4 commenting.It could be you or you or family tomorrow. Warmly commenting Trish Dodd

    • david
      November 19, 2012 - 23:37

      1) They are getting paid; 2) They are not working. Not complicated. And it's David...just like it's spelled.