The 2022 annual report from the Yukon Workers’ Safety and Compensation Board (YWCB) shows that more employers registered for claims in 2022 compared to the year before.
The number of registered employers in 2022 was 4,035 compared to 3,933 in 2021.
The board’s annual information meeting was held at the Kwanlin Dün Cultural Centre in Whitehorse on June 1, with a focus on the operational highlights and the financial performance of the board from the previous year.
In 2022, the board received 1,022 claims for compensation compared to 966 in 2021. Of this number, however, 780 claims were accepted in 2022, down from 801 the year before. In total, 76 per cent of submitted claims were accepted compared to 83 per cent accepted claims in 2021.
The increase is due to a better understanding of what an injury is. It’s also due to an increase in workers covered because more employers were registered with the board and more Yukoners were employed, said board president Kurt Dieckmann.
“Following the pandemic years, while some businesses have closed, others have reopened and now we are seeing new businesses open and workers returning to work,” he said.
As a result, Dieckmann said assessment revenue of the board increased in 2022 up to $35.4 million compared to $32.1 million in 2021.
Dieckmann said industries with increased revenue include public accommodation and service, building construction, adventure/tourism and mining.
“We continue to see an increase in assessment revenue in the number of registered employers in the territory,” he said. “The board aims to maintain its funded position between 121 and 129 per cent of our total liabilities.”
Board chair Mark Pike said at the end of 2022, the organization’s funded position was 131 per cent, down from 143 per cent in 2021.
He adds that despite the economic downturn of 2022, the funded position remains relatively strong.
“Our funded position at the end of 2021 and ongoing careful improved fiscal management allowed us to survive the turmoil of 2022,” he said. “Like every other investment fund, the economic downturn did hurt us.”
The report shows there was one workplace fatality in 2022.
“Our sympathy goes to the family, friends and coworkers,” Dieckmann said. “We feel this loss deep within our organization because we know any worker that doesn’t go home is one too many. It’s our vision as an organization to have zero workplace fatality and injuries.”
Pike said preventing workplace disability is a shared responsibility. He said it’s critical to reduce the number and severity of injuries, and improve return to work outcomes.
He said the board prioritizes safety at the workplace everyday to prevent workplace disability, whether that’s through safety training, planning or education.
“We need to uphold safety as a pillar of our day-to-day life and every single activity we do,” he said.
“All workers and employers have a role to play on safety in the workplace. By working together, we can create a healthier and resilient territory.”
Over the past several years, the focus on injuries has shifted from physical to include psychological injuries, Pike said, noting YWCB recognizes the importance of mental resilience in the workplace.
“Working together with employers and healthcare providers to shift the narrative of mental health has been an ongoing process,” he said.
“We continue to see the lasting effects of these psychological injuries on individuals, families and our community. Psychological safety is the responsibility of every Yukoner.”
He said the board will continue to provide tools and resources to help employers and workers navigate psychological injuries in the workplace.
In July 2022, the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Act was implemented. Pike said the new legislation has given the board the framework to help achieve its mandate of preventing workplace injuries and disabilities.
Dieckmann said the team is offering training, inspections and outreach to educate workers and employers about workplace safety and the changes to adapt. He said the board is committed to embracing technology, reducing red tape and making information more accessible.
In 2022, the board created online forms to make it easier to access services including applying for compensation benefits and registering businesses for coverage.
In the same year, and in collaboration with the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, it launched a new app for the prevention of workplace violence and harassment.
“In 2022, we put more emphasis on our social media presence to share helpful info and to drive traffic to our website,” Dieckmann said.
“Our website is consistently updated with the latest resources for workers and employers.”
When the News asked about YWCB rates for the coming year, Pike said the board will be deciding in the coming months what the appropriate rate should be for 2024.
“At this point I can’t tell you that it will be up or down or remain identical as that process will take place over the next few months,” he said.
Yukon employers pay YWCB certain rates based on a number of factors like the industry and the number of incidents that resulted in claims in the past year. These rates are adjusted each year based on the previous year.
In a June 5 release, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce (YCC) said it understands the importance of safe and healthy workplaces. It called for rebates for businesses and lower assessment rates.
To help Yukon businesses prosper, the release said assessment rates must be stable, affordable and reasonable and that when the funded position of the board exceeds target levels, businesses should receive rebates against what they have paid in assessments.
Chamber treasurer Philip Fitzgerald said it is important to return surplus funds to employers.
“We are simply asking for the YWCB to follow their policy and refund sufficient funds to bring the fund down to 125 per cent. Employers are already funding an additional 25 per cent of their estimated liability. Anything above this is not justified. Any reduction in the cost of doing business is important to Yukon businesses as they continue to struggle to address labour market challenges and inflation.”
Contact Patrick Egwu at email@example.com