June 29, 2016 2:22 pm

Saskatchewan WCB to refund $281M surplus to employers

Saskatchewan’s Workers’ Compensation Board distributing its $281.5 million surplus back to employers, Saskatchewan Federation of Labour cries foul.

Credit: BCLconsulting.ca

Saskatchewan’s Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) is refunding a $281.5 million surplus to employers.

WCB announced it has a surplus from 2015 at its annual general meeting in May.

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The board said 50 per cent of the surplus will be distributed to eligible employers in July, with the remainder by the end of the year.

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WCB chair Gordon Dobrowolsky said the decision to refund the surplus was made after input from both employers and worker representatives.

We carefully weighed our decision on behalf of both employers and injured workers,” Dobrowolsky stated in a release.

“We considered market uncertainties and investment return volatility, a funding policy review, cash flow requirements, economic uncertainty, and changes in accounting and actuarial standards as well as the potential impacts of the committee of review recommendations.

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Not everyone agrees with employers getting the surplus.

Larry Hubich, president of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour (SFL), said the money would be better spent on workers.

“The Workers’ Compensation Board’s (WCB) decision to use excess investment earnings to issue cash refunds to employers is reckless and irresponsible,” Hubich said.

“Workers, particularly those who have been injured on the job, should be the primarily stakeholders and beneficiaries when it comes to the WCB – they are the ones that should have benefitted from strong investment returns.”

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) welcomed the news.

“We told the Sask WCB to rethink its rebate policy and return Saskatchewan employers’ hard-earned money,” said Marilyn Braun-Pollon, CFIB’s vice-president of Prairie and agri-business.

“Business owners tell us they will use their rebate cheque to further improve their safety training and safety awareness in their business,”

Don Morgan, Saskatchewan’s minister of labour relations and workplace safety and minister responsible for the Workers’ Compensation Board, said the distribution to the employers will help grow the economy.

At the end of 2015, WCB’s funded position was 144.7 per cent, exceeding the 105 to 120 per cent funding policy target range.

Dobrowolsky said that increase was due mainly to investment income.

Employers eligible for the refund are those whose net premiums were greater than claims cost over a three-year period.

WCB officials said the three-year period was chosen to ensure employers who may have had one or two years of higher claims were not disqualified.

The amount being distributed to each eligible employer receives is based on 2014 base premiums, the most current year of assessed actual payroll.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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