The territory has one of the most over-funded workers’ compensation boards in the country, second only to that of Prince Edward Island.
The figures, as of 2016, were revealed in a report released Wednesday by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).
The territory’s system is funded at 149.8 per cent, with P.E.I.’s being funded at 159.4 per cent.
Workers’ compensation in six other regions also falls into the over-funded categories.
They are New Brunswick at 112.1 per cent, Newfoundland and Labrador at 126.1 per cent, Saskatchewan at 133.1 per cent, Alberta at 133.8 per cent, British Columbia at 141. 7 per cent and Manitoba at 145.9 per cent.
Quebec and Nunavut/Northwest Territories are the only regions that are within what the CFIB deems the “ideal funding range” of 100 to 110 per cent.
Meanwhile, Nova Scotia and Ontario are the only jurisdictions where the WCB is underfunded, at 84.1 per cent and 87.9 per cent respectively.
The CFIB argues the overfunding in eight regions is depriving employers of money that could otherwise go into their businesses, creating jobs and improving wages and worker safety.
“Boards are holding onto $6.8 billon in extra money,” said Laura Jones, CFIB’s executive vice-president and chief strategic officer.
“Typically when you overpay your taxes, you get a refund. It’s time boards give that refund.
“There is no shortage of great ways it could be put to work in a business, including investigating in staff. The bottom line is that overcharging employers is unfair, unproductive and unnecessary.”
Across the country, workers’ compensation systems are funded through employer premiums and earnings from investments.
The funding position is measured as the ratio between the board’s assets and liabilities.
The report by the CFIB recommends a funding position of 100 to 110 per cent, providing for a 10 per cent “cushion”, which officials believe is “more than enough” to protect against volatility.
Marvin Cruz is a senior research analyst who authored the report.
He argued that additional funding beyond the 110 per cent should be returned to employers, who bear the sole responsibility of funding the system.
As an example, it was noted the rebates for a business with five employees would range from $500 in N.B. to $8,165 in B.C.
That would mean a financial boost to small businesses that would benefit many, including governments – which are also subject to workers’ compensation rates.
“This is a pretty straightforward policy,” Jones said.
“We aren’t asking governments to spend more money, just to give back the excess they’ve taken.”
The territory has one of the highest overfunded WCBs in the country.
However, efforts are underway to bring rates more in line with the true cost of caring for injured workers. That was noted earlier this year, when the board revealed 2018 rates employers will pay.
It has also issued rebate cheques totalling $9.8 million in 2015 and $9.7 million in 2016 to Yukon businesses. A decision on whether rebates will be offered this year has not yet been made.
Of course, the Yukon WCB “fully supports” a system that is fair to both workers and employers, Yukon WCB spokesman Andrew Robulack said.
In addition to the rebates, employers are benefiting from subsidized rates, given the financial position the board is now in.
As Yukon WCB chair Mark Pike said last month when the 2018 rates were revealed:
“Rates are artificially low because the surplus in our funded position places a downward pressure on rates in the form of subsidies.
“With the support of employer and worker stakeholder organizations, we’re engaged in a prudent long-term plan to reduce that surplus along with the subsidies in assessment rates.
“When employers pay rates that reflect the actual costs of caring for injured workers, it helps them recognize the value of preventing injuries and getting workers back on the job as quickly and safely as possible following an injury.”
The average rate is set to rise from $1.87 to $1.93 per $100 of payroll next year for the 3,576 businesses in the territory that pay into the system.
During that press conference, the Yukon WCB pointed out that while most employers will see a rate increase next year, nearly all are paying less than they did between 2009 and 2015.
Robulack said that while the CFIB argues anything over 110 per cent is overfunded, the territory sets its target funding range amount at 121 to 129 per cent.
“The 100 per cent to 110 per cent target range expressed by CFIB is unrealistic for Yukon, and it’s unclear how the CFIB arrived at that range,” Robulack said.
“They appear to be painting all Canadian jurisdictions with the same colour when, the reality is, each of us must address differing sets of economic realities.
“One size of workers’ compensation does not fit all Canadian jurisdictions.
“Boards across Canada must constantly balance the risks associated with workplace health and safety unique to their regions and the influences of the investment market,” Robulack added.
“In many jurisdictions, that has resulted in surpluses, as it has in Yukon.”