September 26th, 2018

Instead of benefits for workers, Ford funnels their WSIB fund to big business

In the latest in a string of attacks on Ontario workers, Ford’s Conservatives are giving big business a 30 per cent break on the insurance premiums they pay to WSIB – taking money for injured workers, and giving it to their bosses.

Ontario NDP Health and Safety critic, Wayne Gates, says Doug Ford is attacking workers who were injured on the job but denied the benefits they need to make ends meet.

“This morning’s announcement of a 30 per cent reduction in employer Worker’s Safety and Insurance premiums, ‘due to the elimination of the unfunded liability’ is a kick in the teeth to the workers of this province,” Gates said. “This is another dramatic cut for injured workers – dragging Ontarians backwards not forwards.”

The payout for big business comes from the elimination of WSIB’s unfunded liability – the difference between its current funding levels and long-term payouts. Instead of making sure vulnerable workers in need of benefits saw those payouts, Ford’s Conservatives chose to reward big business with a premium break instead.

For decades, the Workers Compensation Board suffered drastic cuts by the Harris Conservatives and subsequent Liberals. Now, it appears that Doug Ford is using the Wynne Liberal playbook by giving employers even more breaks on the premiums they pay to the board, instead of making sure workers who get injured at work have benefits to fall back on when they need them.

Gates says the elimination of the unfunded liability announced today was a result of Liberal austerity measures and was eliminated on the backs of injured workers.

“Under 15 years of Liberal government, injured worker claims were increasingly denied, putting money into the pockets of their bosses, not theirs,” Gates said. “These injured workers face barriers to having their claims accepted, resulting in billions of savings already for big employers – like the premier’s buddies.”

A report based on Freedom of Information requests released last year indicates that WSIB significantly reduced spending on things like prescription coverage benefits for those injured at work and provided incentives to health providers to limit their treatment.

“Will this minister direct WSIB to undertake a massive reversal of how it assesses claims now that the ‘unfunded liability’ is miraculously gone, or is this all about making the premier’s big business friends happy?”