On the heels of yet another wave of the pandemic, businesses continue to feel the financial impact of COVID-19. However, a welcome announcement has come from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), advising that $1.5 billion in rebates are being returned to eligible safe Schedule 1 businesses in Ontario. Recent legislative changes allow the WSIB to rebate any surplus above the required reserve amounts, and this will be the first refund of its kind in Ontario.
The WSIB has advised that the rebates will be approximately 30% of each business’ premiums paid in 2019 or 2020, whichever is higher. Rebate credits will be applied to eligible businesses’ accounts in April 2022 and the amounts will be displayed on a business’ statement of accounts. Businesses up to date with their premium payments and reporting can contact employer services to receive their surplus credit by cheque after it has been applied to their accounts.
Businesses must meet all of the following eligibility requirements to receive a rebate:
- Have an active account as of January 31, 2022.
- Had premium obligations in either 2019 or 2020.
- Have not been convicted of a Workplace Safety and Insurance Act or an Occupational Health and Safety Act offence in a proceeding under Part III of the Provincial Offences Act, in 2021 or 2022, up to and including the date the WSIB issues rebates.
- Have not been convicted in more than one such proceeding between 2017 and 2022 up to and including the date the WSIB issues rebates.
This rebate will put more money in the hands of employers and provide some relief to Ontario businesses that have suffered from the ongoing financial effects of the pandemic.
WSIB’s Health & Safety Excellence Program
New information was also released regarding the WSIB’s Health and Safety Excellence Program. This program integrated several previous systems into a single health and safety program that encourages employers to invest in continuous improvement. Participation in the program can result in lower premium rates, potential rebates, and safety recognition for both Schedule 1 and Schedule 2 employers with active accounts. Schedule 2 businesses will not receive financial rebates but will receive non-financial recognition for their achievements.
For Schedule 1 employers, their category of predictability (found on annual premium rate statements or by logging into Compass on the WSIB website) will determine their rebate amount. Businesses with 20% or less predictability will receive 2% of their total annual WSIB premiums (based on previous calendar year premiums at the time of the rebate calculation) per health and safety topic successfully completed and verified by a WSIB validator. Businesses with greater than 20% predictability will receive 1.4% of their total annual premiums. The minimum rebate is $1000 per topic, up to a maximum total rebate of 75% of a business’ annual premiums, or a maximum of $50,000 per topic.
To participate in the program, businesses can attend an information session to learn about the program, and review and choose from a list of approved providers. The approved providers set their own fees which are paid by the business, however, the WSIB states that these costs and more are offset by the financial rebate for success in the program.
There are four components involved in the program:
- The business selects a WSIB-approved provider to work with, completes an assessment to help determine where they should start in their health and safety journey, and develops an action plan to work on health and safety topics of their choosing.
- The business learns how to complete topics with the help of a provider.
- The business submits evidence of their topic completion for review by a WSIB validator.
- The business receives a rebate on their WSIB premiums and recognition for investing in a healthier and safer workplace, such as digital achievement badges.
To qualify for rewards, businesses must meet the following criteria:
- Be a Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 employer with an active WSIB account.
- Be compliant with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (WSIA).
- Have no allowed traumatic fatalities from the date of action plan approval to the date the rebate is issued.
- Submit evidence to show successful completion of one or more action plan topics.
This program provides another opportunity for Ontario businesses to receive money back from the WSIB – for those willing to put in the work.
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Information provided on this blog is intended for general educational use. It is not intended to provide legal advice. ReedGroup does not provide legal services. Consult an attorney for legal advice on this or any other topic.