WCB rates decrease

Yukon businesses will be paying less to insure their workers next year. The Yukon Workers' Compensation, Health and Safety Board announced Thursday it is lowering its 2012 assessment rates.

Yukon businesses will be paying less to insure their workers next year.

The Yukon Workers’ Compensation, Health and Safety Board announced Thursday it is lowering its 2012 assessment rates.

“It shows that investing in safety pays,” said Valerie Royle, president of the board.

All the 69 industries and nine rate categories the WCB insures will see rates reduced.

The average reduction is 13.4 per cent.

All of it reflects the true costs of every industry.

“No group is subsidizing any other,” said Mark Pike, chair of the WCB.

Rates are being reduced even as the territorial mining boom is bringing more and more workers to the territory.

In the last year there has been an “unprecedented growth” in the number of people employed in the Yukon, said Royle.

“The growth rate is more than double what we’ve seen before,” she said.

Much of this increase has taken place in the higher-risk industries, like mining and construction.

Despite this trend, the WCB is expecting an even lower injury rate this coming year, said Royle.

The rate reduction reflects industry’s investment in safety, she said.

While officials are happy to announce the rate reduction, keeping rates down is not the prime objective, said Royle.

“Our goal is not to lower assessment rates, our goal is to lower permanent disabilities,” she said.

While the injuries and assessment rates are lower, the WCB’s accessible payroll is hitting record highs.

At more than $1 billion, it’s another milestone for the Yukon, said Royle.

“It’s a good news story,” said Pike.

By getting its actuarial work done earlier, it was also able to announce the lower assessment rates earlier than usual.

That’s something that the business community has been asking for, said Sandy Babcock, of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce.

“We always hear from our business community that certainty is one of the key issues that they have to contend with when doing business in the territory, so that really helps assist them in their financial forecasts,” said Babcock. “And, of course, we’re thrilled with the decreases across the board on the rates.”

It’s the culmination of six years of hard work by the WCB, the business community and employees, she said.

“The WCB came to the stakeholders with a vision,” said Babcock. “Sometimes we may have come along kicking and screaming, but we came along and we are really now seeing the payoff.”

Contact Josh Kerr at

joshk@yukon-news.com

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