In A Flash

Ontario Government Appoints Special Advisors to Review the WSIB

On May 23, 2019, the Ontario government announced its launch of a review of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), the agency that administers compensation for work-related illnesses and injuries under no-fault insurance for Ontario workplaces.

The government has appointed two special advisors, Linda Regner Dykeman and Sean Speer, to provide the government with insights regarding the Board’s operations and assess how it compares to industry best practices.  The Ministry of Labour further indicates that the review is aimed at ensuring “cost efficiency and effectiveness” and the sustainability of the Board’s funds.

The operational review will focus specifically on the following:

  • Financial oversight: the sustainability of the WSIB insurance fund and the controls over it;
  • Administration: the effectiveness of the current governance model and leadership structure;
  • Efficiency: the effectiveness and cost efficiency of the WSIB’s operations, including comparisons to other jurisdictions and private sector insurers.

The review will not assess how the WSIB makes claim decisions, sets benefit levels, or decides individual claims. Additionally, despite some speculation, the review has no intention of considering privatization of the workers’ compensation scheme in Ontario.

This formal review of the WSIB aligns with the government’s 2018 Ontario Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review that set out steps the Province would take to ensure all Provincial agencies remained relevant, efficient and effective, and that they provide value for money to taxpayers. According to the 2019 Ontario Budget website, by April 11, 2019, the Agency Review Task Force had already reviewed over 60 agencies — almost one-third of more than 190 Provincial agencies.[1]

Although the review of the WSIB aligns with a larger government undertaking, it appears particularly well-timed and follows a number of notable developments at the WSIB over the last few years. The elimination of the unfunded liability, the upcoming transition to the WSIB’s Rate Framework (set to take effect on January 1, 2020), and ongoing Service Delivery model changes at the WSIB are all factors that appear to warrant an independent review of the WSIB’s ongoing sustainability. While the reviewers’ report is expected to be published and available to the public following its conclusion by the end of 2019, it remains to be seen whether the review will make recommendations for substantial changes or improvements, and if, when or how any recommendations will be implemented.

A website has been established to provide the public with information about the review and the reviewers: Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Operational Review.  Those interested in providing feedback about the WSIB’s financial oversight, administration or efficiency are invited to email: WSIBReview@ontario.ca.

If you have any questions about this topic, please do not hesitate to contact a member of the CompClaim team or a Mathews Dinsdale lawyer.

 [1] http://budget.ontario.ca/2019/chapter-1a.html

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