Employers who pay into the Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board can expect a financial boost after the board gained a surplus and decided to distribute the funds to businesses across the province.
“It represents the first redistribution of funds for a very long time, but I think more importantly it signals that the WCB is listening to employers and being more responsive to the needs of employers,” said Karen Low, executive director of Merit Contractors Association of Saskatchewan.
This is the first refund that WCB has doled out in over a decade and according to the board it has been generated by two good years of investments. Because of these investments they have gained $141 million, which is the amount that will be distributed to Saskatchewan employers.
Low says the board identified the surplus at their annual meeting then reached out to industry for comment regarding what to do with the extra funds. Employer groups responded by saying that 100 per cent of the surplus should be redistributed to employers who pay into WCB and the board agreed to the suggestion.
“As an employer group we’ve been encouraging this over the years and I suspect that some of the other employer groups have been doing the same thing,” said Low. “As far as I know, anybody who is registered with WCB and had paid WCB fees, they will be qualified for the rebate.”
Low also says that workplace injury rates have also decreased substantially over the last few years, dropping by 50 per cent in the last decade. Though she can only speak for the construction industry, she says there has been a heightened awareness of safety on the job site.
Safety is a “paramount” concern for every employer in the industry and because of this safety programs have increased dramatically.
“A lot of our employers now hire full-time safety officers where their only job is to ensure safety on the job site. It’s become just such a major concern, and not only for WCB reasons, but just to ensure that each one of our employees goes home safe at the end of the day,” Low said. “But some of the WCB initiatives like the Work Safe Program have also been a very good supporter of general safety awareness and of course the construction industry.”
Low says employers who receive the redistributed surplus of funds will likely put it back into operations and payroll.