FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Regina, Sask., Dec. 7, 2020 –The Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) announced today that it will hold this year’s average employer premium rate at the 2020 rate of $1.17 and will cap industry level rates at 10 per cent. This board level hold is to provide a measure of economic relief to Saskatchewan businesses struggling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the WCB’s rate model, the 2021 average required rate should have been $1.23 per hundred dollars of payroll without the board level hold. The increase was driven by a combination of factors, including the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 and an increase in compensation and health-care costs.
“Given the level of uncertainty surrounding Saskatchewan's economy as a result of the pandemic, the WCB board proposed a hold for 2021," said Minister responsible for the WCB Don Morgan. "By holding the rate at $1.17, the WCB will save employers approximately $13.4 million in 2021 premiums. This is in addition to approximately $1 million employers saved on interest and penalties in 2020."
Premium rates are generally determined by two key factors – claims costs and payroll.
“We recognize the impact of the COVID-19 virus across the province. Payroll is down, as many businesses struggle to stay afloat,” said WCB CEO, Phil Germain. “This assistance from the WCB will benefit those employers. This is just another example of how we all – including workers, employers and government – work together to overcome the many challenges caused by the current pandemic and subsequent economic slowdown.”
The 2021 average employer premium rate is $1.17 per hundred dollars of payroll, unchanged from 2020.
Prior to the premium rate plateauing in 2019, the average premium rate had been steadily declining, in conjunction with an overall reduction in work-related illnesses and injuries. In fact, the current average premium rate is 43 per cent below the 17-year high of $2.05 in 2004. However, WCB officials advise the rate may rise in 2022 if payroll costs remain low while claims costs continue to rise.
“We’ve seen a tremendous collective effort in recent years by workers, employers, safety associations and stakeholders to bring down the number of workplace injuries in our province,” said WCB chair Gord Dobrowolsky. “We’re making significant progress. In 2019, for the fourth year in a row, 88 per cent of Saskatchewan employers reported zero injuries in their workplaces. As well, the workplace total injury rate in our province has dropped by over 50 per cent since 2008.”
While overall injury rates are down, the number of serious injuries continues to be a concern. In 2019, serious injuries accounted for 12 per cent of total workplace injuries in the province, but more than 80 per cent of compensation costs. The WCB is working with customers and stakeholders to innovate the WCB’s claims and injury prevention strategies. The development of the Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy in 2019 was the first major step toward reducing injuries and improving disability management, and return to work in Saskatchewan. Find out more about the strategy at www.worksafesask.ca.
Employers can also play a significant role in keeping their premium rates down. Work-related injuries can be prevented by instituting a comprehensive workplace safety program. A solid disability management and return-to-work program will also help reduce costs and assist injured workers to recover and return to work safely and as soon as possible.
Employers can log into their secure WCB online account starting on Dec. 7, 2020 to view their 2021 industry premium rate, including their experience rating and certificate, if eligible. Employers who don’t have a secure WCB online account can sign up for one today at www.wcbsask.com.
Carolyn Van der Veen
Director, Communications, WCB