Ontario PC proposal calls for private insurers to compete with the province’s Workplace Safety

July, 2012 – An Ontario Progressive Conservative Caucus White Paper has recommended that private insurance companies be allowed to compete with the Workplace Safety Insurance Board (WSIB) for the provision of work-related insurance coverage.

The WSIB is a government agency that provides injury and disability benefits to workers. Employers fund the WSIB through payroll taxes in the form of premiums based on the earnings of their employees. WSIB sets the premium rates, based in part on accident experience, while the government sets benefits and coverage through legislation.

In Paths to Prosperity: A New Vision for Labour Reform, released in June, the Ontario PC Caucus notes the WSIB “currently has an estimated unfunded liability of $14.5 billion. This means the assets in its insurance fund are $14.5 billion less than what is needed to meet the estimate of lifetime costs of all claims under the WSIB’s coverage.”

The answer, the white paper says, is to allow the private sector to compete with the WSIB in providing insurance coverage for injured workers in Ontario. Mandatory coverage would still be in place, the paper notes, and an employer would be required to present proof of membership in an alternate plan before being allowed to opt out of the WSIB. Private insurance, like WSIB coverage, would remain a no-fault system.

Essentially, the WSIB would serve as what the paper calls an insurer of last resort, providing coverage to businesses that cannot obtain insurance elsewhere.

“Most U.S. states already allow private insurers to compete with state insurance funds for the provision of workers’ compensation,” the white paper notes. “We believe that a similar model would work well for Ontario.”

The full paper can be read at http://www.ontariopc.com/media/2012/06/Hudak-White-Papers-Labour-H.pdf.

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