Bill seeks to safeguard struggling business owners from sudden undue costs amid COVID-19
The Ontario Government introduced Bill 238, or the Workplace Safety and Insurance Amendment Act, 2020, on Dec. 8. The legislation aims to ensure the continued stability of Workplace Safety and Insurance Board premiums and keep the average industrial wage stable amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said the province.
In the context of the public health crisis, Ontario has seen a 7.8 per cent rise in the average industrial wage, as compared with the average increase of 2 to 3 per cent, which has been attributed to job losses among workers in the retail, hospitality and the service industries and among other workers receiving lower wages.
The proposed legislation, which introduces amendments to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, SO 1997, c 16, Sch A, seeks to safeguard employers from an unexpected increase in WSIB premiums and to ensure that the effect of the average industrial wage increase on WSIB premiums does not exceed 2 per cent.
These proposed changes will not affect the 7.8 per cent increase to the maximum earnings cap for workers and will see to it that workers can continue receiving fair compensation for work-related injuries and occupational diseases during the pandemic.
“Our proposed amendments will help businesses, while making sure that we continue to support workers who are injured on the job,” said Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, training and skills development, in the news release.
If passed, the new s. 88.1 will provide a special rule to be applied when calculating certain premiums that employers have to pay for the 2021 calendar year and will give the Lieutenant Governor in Council regulation-making powers relating to this calculation and the period of applicability for the special rule.
The proposed s. 167 will allow the labour minister to order the WSIB to furnish information needed for the Act’s proper administration. The labour minister may decide what information it will consider necessary, the date when the information is due, the form that the information should follow and whether this power will be delegated to the deputy minister.
The WSIB serves as the workplace insurance provider in Ontario and covers more than five million individuals and more than 300,000 workplaces throughout the province.