One year ago E.K. Gillin wrote an article about the possible pros and cons of a newly organized WSIB Service Delivery model. This article discussed what the new methods of service delivery would be like and what employers would need to be ready for in the future. Most of what was written a year ago has now come to fruition. Claims are being handed off to new adjudicators at set times after the date of injury. The WSIB has been increasing pressure on employers sooner after the date of injury to determine if permanent, suitable work is available for injured workers who will not fully recover. The application of the Secondary Injury Enhancement Fund policy has been tightened and centralized to a dedicated team. Similar centralization to tighten up adjudication and policy interpretation for recurrence claims has occurred. Whether you are in favour of these changes or not, there is a lot of evidence suggesting that this may just be the beginning of a larger overhaul of the WSIB.
The WSIB is now moving into the third year of their Five Year Strategic Plan: 2008-2012, The Road to Zero. The goals set in that five year plan were ambitious and in order to meet them the WSIB will continue to make significant changes to the current system. We have recently seen the WSIB request consultation from stakeholders on issues such as the implementation of mandatory coverage in the construction industry, online process for obtaining clearance certificates, restructuring health and safety associations and opportunities to improve the certification of Joint Health & Safety Committee members. There will be many more stakeholder consultations in the coming year as many Board programs and policies are targeted for change.
The WSIB is also planning to alter their senior management by introducing a Chief Strategy Officer who will be responsible to build and lead the Strategic Management Office. This new senior officer will work with the CEO and the senior management team to collect, analyze and translate key information to shape the WSIB’s policy options and help transition strategies to concrete programs. The WSIB’s overall goal with this new position appears to be to start working towards becoming more financially responsible.
Many reports have been released this past year regarding the WSIB, performed both internally and by third-party experts. The WSIB’s unfunded liability has continued to rise and was $11.5 billion as of December 31, 2008. The provincial Auditor General provided a review of the WSIB’s unfunded liability this year and suggested many strategies to reduce the amount and risk of this liability. Morneau Sobeco released a report regarding the Experience Rating programs (NEER, CAD-7, MAP). Recently, a Value for Money Audit was performed by KPMG that took an in depth look at the Labour Market Re-Entry program. Also, the Chair’s Consultation report for 2009 was released just this week and suggested large scale changes to Board policies and practices after reviewing the stakeholder consultations.
The times may indeed be changing at the WSIB, and it is still slightly unclear exactly how or when these changes will be made. Some predict that there will be a lengthening of the time period that an employer’s accidents are reviewed for experience rating purposes. Others believe the Board will ensure that the rebates paid out each year are equal to or less than the surcharges that are collected. Regardless, employers should be prepared to further improve their health & safety culture, Disability Management and Return to Work programs. E.K. Gillin & Associates has a number of services to assist your company in maximizing program effectiveness and minimizing costs. Spaces are filling up for our upcoming Claims Management and Return to Work training courses. Call us soon to register!
Jamie Petznick, CK