Small Business Calls for Freeze on WCB Rates

Beset with impending debts WCB is proposing raising rates in BC as high as 20 per cent. The Coalition of BC Businesses says that will harm employers and fails to address the real problem; out of control WCB costs.

The Coalition of BC Businesses, of which the WSCA is a member, is urging the provincial government to freeze employer assessment rates until a full and comprehensive review of the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) has been completed under the Core Review.

The Coalition which represents small and medium-sized businesses on labour issues, believes BC’s Employers should not be forced to absorb the spiraling costs of claims and administration that are a result of what it sees as WCB mismanagement.

In a letter to Graham Bruce Minister of Skills Development and Labour Coalition Chair Suromitra Sanatani said, “While it is true the the WCB’s weakened investment portfolio has contributed to the Board’s poor financial standing, failure to contain rising administration and claims costs are the overwhelming source of the problem. Specifically, cost associated with the structure of wage loss benefits, vocational rehabilotiation, and pension awards are completely out of control.”

The WCB Fund balance has dropped from a $417-million surplus in 2000 to a projected unfunded liability of $123-million by the end of 2001. The liability is projected to increase to $602-million in 2002.

To remedy this the WCB has announced rate hikes between 8% and 20% in 2002.