Rebutting Craig Tuton

Rebutting Craig Tuton Open letter to Craig Tuton, chair of the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board: First, I would like to state I have full respect and admiration for all of the employees who are working at the WCB as they are doing the

Open letter to Craig Tuton, chair of the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board:

First, I would like to state I have full respect and admiration for all of the employees who are working at the WCB as they are doing the best they can with the resources that are provided to them.

Even though the Yukon WCB is the smallest jurisdiction in Canada, their employees are faced with providing the same level of service and results as is required by all other jurisdictions, and I applaud their efforts in striving to meet their requirements.

Tuton, you mentioned the report I wrote for the chamber was “riddled with errors in fact as well as in methodology.”

If there are errors in fact, Tuton, they are errors your board provided to the Association of Workers Compensation Boards of Canada because that is where I got the facts.

I only used information that your board provided to your national association.

In your comments to both the legislature and the media, you brought forward specific items from the report you stated were incorrect.

I would like to respond to those points.

They were:

I . BC assessment rates are merely base rates and not actual rates.

2. BC employers having to subsidize Yukon employers by one per cent.

3. Workers compensation is an insurance fund and not a government department and is paid for completely by employers.

4. The issue of fines and safety violations.

5. Number of days from injury to first payment.

6. Benefit levels that injured workers would receive.

7. The base cost of the system

In today’s response I will deal with two of the issues listed above. I will deal with the other items in future letters.

The first issue I would like to deal with, Tuton, is that you were very quick to point out BC assessment rates are “merely” base rates and not actual rates.

As well, you mentioned there is an additional cost allocated to each employer based on their claims cost history and rates could increase by up to 100 per cent if there was a claim.

What you were alluding to is the fact that BC, as well as all other jurisdictions, has an “Experience Rating” program to encourage safer work places and reduce injuries.

Unfortunately, your actuary stated that, due to economies of scale, this would not be practical in the Yukon due to the small size of the employer base.

In addition, since the employer base is so small, your actuary advised you to reduce the number of classifications from 52 down to nine, and, as in all insurance systems, the smaller the pool the greater the risk, as well as the higher the volatility to fluctuations in premiums.

The BC experience rating program is revenue neutral and is sensitive to size differences between firms.

There is a maximum 100 per cent surcharge that can be levied, but not due to one claim as you mentioned.

It would take almost 10 years of having almost three times the claims costs than the average for an employer to reach a 50 per cent surcharge.

In addition, as experience rating is revenue neutral, you neglected to state those employers with lower experience costs than their average peers will receive up to a 50 per cent discount in the base rate, and many Yukon employers would benefit from this.

Contrary to your comments, not all employers would see additional costs above the base rate.

Many employers would actually see rates lower than the base rate. Why were you not forthright in providing all of the facts to the legislature and people of the Yukon?

And why would you need to state only half truths?

Now, Tuton, lets move on to issue number two.

Nowhere in the report did I state, “BC employers would be prepared to, or asked to subsidize Yukon employer by a one per cent increase to the assessment rates.”

This is a false statement fabricated by you to take the focus off of the real issues at hand.

It would be foolhardy to think that another jurisdiction’s employers would be willing to subsidize someone else’s insurance plan.

If you did read the report, you would know that the one per cent you are mentioning is the relative size of the Yukon compensation system compared to that of British Columbia, nothing more and nothing less.

However, you may be concerned that should an actuarial review be conducted to roll the Yukon compensation system into that of BC, due to the significant variance between the board’s key assumptions, specifically the discount rate with that of BC, the benefit liability is probably understated and there are not sufficient funds to cover the future costs of those existing injured workers.

Is that the real reason why you felt it was necessary to fabricate a false statement about the report?

I personally found it offensive when you stated, “It’s typical for the territory’s residents and businesses to look to other Canadians to pay to solve local problems.”

Tuton, as the chair of the WCB you are supposed to act as a neutral person and protect the interests of both injured workers as well as employers.

From your recent conduct, it would appear that you have lost your neutrality and, as such, maybe you have been the chair too long and it is time for you to step down and allow a more neutral person take over.

Ivan Dechkoff

Whitehorse