The Yukon Chamber of Commerce (YCC) attended the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board’s (YWCHSB) Annual Information Meeting Thursday, June 6.
Tammy Beese, Chair of the YCC Board, said, “We are encouraged by the 15% drop in lost-time claims, from 488 in 2017 to 417 in 2018. We also note the lost-time rate (the number of lost-time claims per 100 workers) has fallen 14% from 2.1 in 2018 to 1.8 in 2018. This is the lowest that indicator has been in at least 20 years. These changes reflect Yukon employers’ enhanced focus, and progress, on safety in the workplace.”
Chamber President Peter Turner added, “We are also encouraged by the trend in reduced Lost-time injury rates per 100 covered workers, which has declined by 25% from 2.4 to 1.8 over the course of the last 20 years. This reflects a significant downward trend, which we credit to the efforts of both employers and workers of the Yukon to make the workplaces safer”.
Four years ago, YCC identified that the YWCHSB had accrued a surplus of reserves in excess of its required levels. At the height, in 2014, YWCHSB was funded at 160% of its requirements. Subsequent to discussions held between YCC and YWCHSB, YWCHSB agreed with the Chamber that a multi-year series of rebates should be issued to employers to bring YWCHSB reserves down to their legislated reserve range.
YCC has worked in partnership with YWCHSB to arrive at a fair and responsible manner in which the surplus is being repaid to employers. The initial plan, announced late in 2015, saw employers receiving cheques before the end of December 2015. In total, $10 million was returned to employers that year. A similar scenario unfolded in 2016, 2017, and 2018, for a total of $35 million in rebates over four years. An additional $25 million from the surplus has also been used to subsidise assessment rates employer pay to fund the system from 2012 to 2018.
As of the end of 2018, the funding ratio is at 132%, not far off the targeted maximum of 129%. Efforts to bring YWCHSB reserves down to their mandated maximum level are approaching achieving that objective. Now that the actual funded position is approaching the maximum funding level target, fewer funds are available for rebates or for funding subsidies on the assessment rates. This makes it likely within a year or two the rates employers pay will rise to reflect the true cost of operating the system.
YCC will continue to monitor the surplus situation, and will have discussions with YWCHSB regarding whether consideration should be given to issuing a further rebate to employers again this year. As well, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce will be an active participant in the consultation process to update the act covering YWCHSB, later this year.
The Yukon Chamber encourages all employers, managers, supervisors and workers to continue to work together to ensure everyone is safe at work.
Incorporated in 1985, the Yukon Chamber of Commerce is the collective voice of Yukon's business community, working to create a climate conducive to a strong private-sector economy by providing leadership and representation on issues and projects affecting business. The Chamber works with over 750 Yukon businesses, through direct or Community Chamber membership, as well as the five Community Chambers of Dawson City, Silver Trail, St. Elias, Watson Lake and Whitehorse.