WCB rates to drop for many Yukon businesses

Most Yukon businesses will pay less to the Yukon Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board in 20.11 Rates have dropped for nine in 10 employers. The average business will see its rates drop by nearly 16 per cent, to $2.

Most Yukon businesses will pay less to the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board in 2011.

Rates have dropped for nine in 10 employers. The average business will see its rates drop by nearly 16 per cent, to $2.49 in 2011 from $2.95 in 2010.

The exception to this downward trend is the mining industry. More exploration work means more accidents. And that’s led rates to rise, to $6.39 from $6.02.

Bridge builders and road makers, meanwhile, have been rewarded with a lower-paying classification for low injury rates, resulting in a rate drop to $4.96 from $5.51.

“They’re finally seeing the fruits of their labour,” said Valerie Royle, the board’s president and CEO.

It’s the second year that rates have dropped for most businesses.

“We’re still high compared to the rest of Canada, but we’re moving in the right direction,” said Rick Karp, president of the Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce. “That’s really fantastic.”

This praise shows how much has changed over the past year. Last autumn, businesses were calling for the compensation board to lower its rates at any cost – including breaking apart the board and merging it with its counterpart in British Columbia.

Yukon’s board has responded by trimming its staff. To wit: there’s now no longer a front desk receptionist. Those duties are now shared by several workers near the front of the building.

The board employs fewer policy wonks than it did, although it has hired more inspectors.

Its number of employees is expected to shrink to 69 in 2012, from 75 in 2007, said Royle.

The board has trimmed other costs. It contracts a languages services firm in British Columbia, rather than hire local translators. Doctors use software, rather than typists, to transcribe reports.

And the board has saved money by using the same accounting firm as the WCBs of Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. “Our contract was probably one-quarter of what they paid,” said Royle. “Where we can be efficient, we are.”

As a result, administrative costs within rates have dropped, on average, to $1.10 from $1.15.

Next year’s rates also fix several inequities in the previous groupings of companies.

Haircutters last year saw their rates rise, despite nary an accident in their field for more than a decade, because they were lumped in with other “miscellaneous” businesses.

They’ve now been lumped together with retailers, resulting in a big rate drop, to $1.83 from $3.38.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

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