WCB drops rates

For the second year in a row the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board has dropped its rates.

For the second year in a row the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board has dropped its rates.

That means that every Yukon business will be paying less this year to insure their employees and themselves against accidents.

Most of the credit should go to Yukon employers for the progress they have made in reducing workplace injuries, said Joy Waters, the board’s new president.

“It’s important to know that our goal is not to lower rates, our goal is the prevention of worker injuries and disability and when we are all successful, businesses will see stable, or in some years like this year, lower rates,” she said.

Although the lower number of injuries was the main reason for the cut in rates, it wasn’t the only one.

With 200 new employers setting up shop in the Yukon last year, there were 1,500 more workers in the territory. That meant $5 million more in assessment revenue for the compensation board. Last year, for the first time ever, the total assessable payroll topped more than $1 billion.

The compensation board has also seen a healthy return on its investments.

“We’ve benefited from our conservative investment strategy, which has paid off despite the global financial malaise of 2011,” said Waters.

Although its portfolio didn’t perform as well as it did last year, with a 4.2 per cent return it was still almost double the 2.4 per cent the compensation board was aiming for.

While rates will drop for every category of business in the Yukon, not all industries will see the same level of reduction.

The resources and transportation group, which includes bus drivers, trappers and firefighters, will see only a one per cent reduction in its rates.

The medium construction group, which includes occupations like welders, plumbers and electrical contractors, will see the biggest savings, with a 12 per cent cut.

“What this demonstrates is that if we invest in safety and return to work, we see a trend with fewer workers injured for less time,” said Waters. “Of course this does not mean as a society we can let up on our safety measures … we still got a ways to go, as the injury board outside (our building) shows.”

Contact Josh Kerr at joshk@yukon-news.com