WCB to name health and safety offenders

The average workers' compensation assessment rates will decrease by 15.6 per cent next year. The announcement last week received "a big thumbs-up" from both chambers of commerce.

The average workers’ compensation assessment rates will decrease by 15.6 per cent next year.

The announcement last week received “a big thumbs-up” from both chambers of commerce.

“It’s quite good news for business, so we were excited to hear about that,” said Yukon Chamber of Commerce chair Jerome Babyn.

“We need to continue to ask WCB to make sure that they’re doing everything possible to try to bring costs down for the Yukon.”

The average assessment rate will drop from this year’s level of $2.95 to $2.49 per $100 of assessable payroll.

“It’s not an across-the-board decrease,” said compensation board president Valerie Royle.

“Some industries will get more than that and some might see an increase if their costs are still going up.”

Specific rates for each of the 69 different industry groups will be announced in the fall.

The rate drop will mean a decrease in revenues of more than $4 million for the compensation board.

It is able to do this because of a 43 per cent reduction in claims costs last year.

Royle attributes this decrease to the success of the board’s Return-to-Work program.

As the name implies, the program focuses on getting workers back on the job as safely and quickly as possible.

This is something that is good for the employer, aids in the worker’s full recovery and reduces the claims costs paid out by the compensation board.

The program got 88 per cent of injured workers back at work within 90 days.

The board has a few additional tricks up its sleeve to continue to decrease rates in the future.

“To get it lower we feel we need to take a harder stance on occupational health and safety,” said Royle.

“So one of the things that we’ll be doing starting June 1 is we’ll be releasing the names of all employers and workers who are fined.”

There were four workplace fatalities in the Yukon last year.

In order to increase safety, the board has been working with employers, consulting, education, raising fines, and now is publishing the names of offenders, said Royle.

“The cost of not doing this, let alone the financial cost, is just too high.”

In the past, Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce chair Muriel Chalifoux has said benefits paid out to injured workers in the territory may be too high.

Decreasing these benefits may be another way to lower the assessment rate.

“To make sure we’re competitive, you’ve got to always look at those things,” said Babyn.

“That includes administrative costs, which are always something we should be looking at in terms of any business.”

When it comes to reducing workers’ benefits, “It’s not on, it never will be on,” according to Federation of Labour president Alex Furlong.

“We will fight tooth and nail to make sure workers’ rights are maintained. We will never advocate for the reduction of benefits.

“They wouldn’t have to pay out benefits if there were no workplace injuries.”

Furlong is also against cuts to the compensation board itself in an effort to reduce assessment rates.

“I get really ticked off, quite frankly, when employers are talking about reducing administration costs, because that’s just a red herring,” he said.

“The costs to the system are directly related to injuries, not administration costs.”

Furlong applauds the board’s decision to release the names of offenders.

“We supported the board’s approach in education first, but that ain’t working,” he said.

“Some employers have really taken that mantra and are very progressive in health and safety, but others, quite frankly, don’t give a hoot.

“So an employer that I see published all the time for health and safety violations, it would give me pause to consider whether I want to work there.”

The Joint Chamber Committee on WCB will be hosting a business breakfast on Thursday at the Yukon Inn to get feedback from employers.

The meeting will look at the work the committee has done and where it should focus its energy in the future.

Royle will be in attendance to give a short presentation and answer questions.

Contact Chris Oke at

chriso@yukon-news.co

Just Posted

The Fireweed Market in Shipyards Park will open on May 13. Joel Krahn/Yukon News
Whitehorse’s Fireweed Market opens May 13

The Fireweed Market will return with ‘exciting’ new and returning vendors

Ron Rousseau holds a sign saying ‘It’s time for a cultural shift’ during the Yukoners: Raise Your Voice Against Misogyny rally on May 11. (John Tonin/Yukon News)
Protest held to condemn Yukon Party MLAs’ texts

A rally was held outside of legislature to condemn the inappropriate texts messages of Yukon Party MLAs Stacey Hassard and Wade Istchenko.

XX
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for May 12, 2021.… Continue reading

Health Minister Tracy-Anne McPhee and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brendan Hanley announced youth vaccination clinics planned for this summer. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon government file)
Vaccination campaign planned for Yukon youth age 12 and up

The Pfizer vaccine was approved for younger people on May 5.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley announced two new cases of COVID-19 on May 11. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Two new cases of COVID-19 reported, one in the Yukon and one Outside

One person is self-isolating, the other will remain Outside until non-infectious

Neil Hartling, the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon president, left, said the new self-isolation guidelines for the Yukon are a ‘ray of hope’ for tourism operators. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Yukon tourism operators prepared for ‘very poor summer’ even with relaxed border rules

Toursim industry responds to new guidelines allowing fully vaccinated individuals to skip mandatory self-isolation.

A lawsuit has been filed detailing the resignation of a former Yukon government mine engineer. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A year after resigning, former chief mine engineer sues Yukon government

Paul Christman alleges a hostile work environment and circumvention of his authority led him to quit

Former Liberal MLA Pauline Frost speaks to reporters outside the courthouse on April 19. One of the voters accused of casting an invalid vote has been granted intervenor status in the lawsuit Frost filed last month. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Voters named in Pauline Frost election lawsuit ask to join court proceedings

The judge granted Christopher Schafer intervenor status

Haley Ritchie/Yukon News file
File photo of the legislative assembly. The previous spring sitting began on March 4 but was interrupted due to the election.
Throne speech kicks off short spring legislature sitting

The government will now need to pass the budget.

The deceased man, found in Lake LaBerge in 2016, had on three layers of clothing, Dakato work boots, and had a sheathed knife on his belt. Photo courtesy Yukon RCMP
RCMP, Coroner’s Office seek public assistance in identifying a deceased man

The Yukon RCMP Historical Case Unit and the Yukon Coroner’s Office are looking for public help to identify a man who was found dead in Lake LaBerge in May 2016.

Yukon Zinc’s Wolverine minesite has created a mess left to taxpayers to clean up, Lewis Rifkind argues. This file shot shows the mine in 2009. (John Thompson/Yukon News file)
Editorial: The cost of the Wolverine minesite

Lewis Rifkind Special to the News The price of a decent wolverine… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: border opening and Yukon Party texts

Dear Premier Sandy Silver and Dr Hanley, Once again I’m disheartened and… Continue reading

Fire chief Jason Everett (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City launches emergency alert system

The city is calling on residents and visitors to register for Whitehorse Alert

Most Read