Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

Philip Fitzgerald

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

Peter Turner

Lack of WCB rebates disappoints chamber

The Yukon Chamber of Commerce says it’s disappointed with the decision of the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board (YWCHSB) to not release a further rebate to Yukon employers.

By Whitehorse Star on November 19, 2019

The Yukon Chamber of Commerce says it’s disappointed with the decision of the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board (YWCHSB) to not release a further rebate to Yukon employers.

As the Star reported Monday, the board announced its intention in emails to local media outlets last Friday afternoon.

It said its decision will enable it to keep rates stable and maintain the integrity of the compensation fund.

From 2012 through 2018, more than $65 million was distributed to Yukon employers in the form of rate subsidies and rebate cheques, the board noted.

As of Dec. 31, 2018, the chamber noted Monday, the board’s reserves stood at 132 per cent of projected liabilities, outside its targeted range of 121 per cent to 129 per cent.

Out of that surplus, the board is funding $2.9 million in rate subsidies in 2019 and has announced a further $2.7 million in rate subsidies in 2020.

Five years ago, the chamber identified that the board had accrued a surplus of reserves above its required levels.

Subsequent discussions between the chamber and the board have resulted in a four-year series of rebates issued to employers that.

Coupled with rate subsidies, they were intended to bring the board’s reserves down to within its mandated range of 121 per cent to 129 per cent of total liabilities.

“For the last eight years, Yukon employers have been extremely patient waiting for the board to return funds it does not need,” said Philip Fitzgerald, the chamber’s treasurer.

“This continued reluctance of the board to follow their policy of maintaining reserves of 121 per cent to 129 per cent, is disappointing.

“If their policy holds that the fund should be 125 per cent +/- 4 per cent, the board should return anything over 129 per cent.

“We note that other jurisdictions legislate mandatory refunds once their respective funds reach a funding level of 125 per cent,” Fitzgerald added.

On Dec. 31st, 2018, the board had investments worth $203 million and an estimated liability of $155 million.

These amounts would suggest approximately $10 million was available for a rebate that would have left the fund in a well-funded position, the chamber said.

Annual assessments collected by the board from employers in 2018 was $26.7 million.

“Announcing this decision 11 months after fiscal year-end, with no reference to the fund’s actual current position, adds to the confusion and opaqueness of this decision,” the chamber added.

Employers face an immediate 10 per cent penalty if they are a day late on payment of any premiums, the chamber pointed out.

“We would ask that the board return excess funds it has collected more quickly. We also take issue with the board’s continued assumption that it knows what is best for excess funds, with its practice of subsiding future premiums.

“Today’s employers should be paying for their liabilities, not being subsidized by excess contributions from past years.”

The board’s surplus has accrued as a result of significant stock market growth, prudently managed over recent years, the chamber said.

It plans to carefully review the board’s next annual financial results, to be released in April 2020, to determine if the past four years of rebates (totalling $35 million), coupled with 2019 and 2020 rate subsidies totaling $5.6 million, have brought board reserves within the prescribed range of 121 per cent to 129 per cent of total liabilities.

“A further rebate may be warranted, and the Yukon chamber awaits with anticipation the YWCHSB financial statement for 2019, which will be released in April of 2020,” said Peter Turner, the chamber’s president.

“With the 2019 and 2020 rate subsidies, the prescribed range may have been achieved, but we will not know for certain until the April 2020 report.

“Be assured that the chamber will be carefully monitoring the situation.”

In the board’s statement of last Friday, Mark Pike, who chairs the board of directors, said that by “exercising this caution, we’re providing downside protection to the fund if a market correction occurs, and that means a lower risk of rate volatility for employers.

“It’s the most prudent financial decision to protect the interests of employers and the integrity of the Fund itself.”

The chamber encourages all employers, managers, supervisors and workers to work together to ensure everyone is safe at work.

Incorporated in 1985, the chamber is the collective voice of the Yukon’s business community, working to create a climate conducive to a strong private-sector economy by providing leadership and representation on issues and projects affecting business.

It works with more than 750 Yukon businesses, through either direct or community chamber membership, as well as the five community chambers of Dawson City, Silver Trail, St. Elias, Watson Lake and Whitehorse.

Comments (10)

Up 1 Down 0

Don’t tickle me Elmo! on Nov 25, 2019 at 12:27 am

Perhaps you’re right Jayla. The YEU is more like an Inspector Clouseau. Bumbling along clueless but still able to get the job done for YG.

Up 7 Down 1

North_of_60 on Nov 23, 2019 at 5:29 pm

“In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control, and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely."-- Pournelle's law of Bureaucracy

Up 5 Down 1

Jayla on Nov 22, 2019 at 4:32 pm

@ Tickle me Elmo: Are you really suggesting YEU is expert at something? Thanks for the laugh.

Up 4 Down 2

Don’t Tickle Me Elmo! on Nov 22, 2019 at 12:07 am

Sorry Jayla but the YEU already called it... And we should let the experts do what they do best!

Up 13 Down 0

charles Meyer on Nov 21, 2019 at 9:54 am

The YWCHSB is like a Mafia, except they do not protect the ones that pay Dues to them. It's almost criminal in my view.

Up 14 Down 3

Jayla on Nov 21, 2019 at 7:08 am

They should just change the name to "Employers' Protection from Liability Agency"

Up 3 Down 4

Miles Epanhauser on Nov 20, 2019 at 7:51 pm

This board is for workers and employers.
It's best to allow rebates for employers and have a sharp pencil when reviewing claims because employers need to make good profits.

Up 26 Down 2

Oya on Nov 20, 2019 at 4:05 pm

@ Richard Bishop You are spot on. Is the fund not supposed to be for workers?
Wtf is that Board of Directors doing? Wtf is YWCHSB doing?

PS Note how these comments are relegated to the back pages?

Up 23 Down 2

Richard Bishop on Nov 19, 2019 at 5:06 pm

"It’s the most prudent financial decision to protect the interests of employers and the integrity of the Fund itself.”
Workers can look out for themselves.

Up 34 Down 4

Oya on Nov 19, 2019 at 3:58 pm

The Board's surplus has accrued as a result of..... years and years and years of denying workers compensation for their injuries.

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