Following years of advocacy from Retail Council of Canada, the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council and other industry associations, WorkplaceNL (formerly the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission) has eliminated the employer surcharge and reduced the average employer insurance premium in Newfoundland and Labrador to $2.20 per $100 of payroll. This $0.25 reduction follows a $0.30 reduction that was made in 2014. Despite the significant reductions over the past two years, employers in Newfoundland and Labrador will still pay the third highest average employer premiums in Canada.

Employers should expect to receive their individual rates before the end of October and almost all can expect a decrease in their rate.

WorkplaceNL also announced that it will increase the maximum compensable and assessable earnings (MCAE) limit on new claims for injured workers to $62,540. This change will make the WorkplaceNL’s earnings limit the highest in Atlantic Canada.

These changes will come into effect on January 1, 2016.

What RCC Did / Next Steps:

RCC commends the WorkplaceNL for lowering the rate following years of improved safety rates.

For years, RCC has been raising the issue of high employer premiums through meetings with WorkplaceNL and government Ministers in Newfoundland and Labrador. RCC has also raised the issue in its pre-budget submissions to the provincial government, noting that the high premiums are an impediment to attracting and keeping business in the province.

RCC has also discussed and received counsel on the issue from the Newfoundland and Labrador Employers’ Council.

As WorkplaceNL ultimately reports through to the government of Newfoundland and Labrador, RCC has recommended that the government mandate WorkplaceNL to look at best practices in workers’ compensation and harmonize with other Canadian provinces. Workers’ compensation costs and claim durations in Newfoundland and Labrador need to continue to decrease so that employer rate reductions can be sustainable.

WorkplaceNL still covers a higher percentage of the province’s workforce than any other jurisdiction in Canada.

The average recovery time for work place injuries in the province is still too high compared with the national average.

Background:

The rate reduction will come from the removal of a $0.25 surcharge that employers have been paying since 1993 to cover unfunded liabilities in the workers’ compensation system.

At the end of 2014, the injury fund was $1.1 billion and over 112 per cent funded. This is the first time the funding target of 110 per cent has been exceeded. Based on a previous agreement among stakeholders, once funding stability is achieved, the surcharge can be removed. The removal of the surcharge is a testament to the work of employers and employees to create a safer workplace.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don't hesitate to contact Jim Cormier at: [email protected] or (902) 422-4144