The Ontario Federation of Labour today released its report “Rewarding offenders” exposing how the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board is giving millions of dollars in rebates on their premiums each year to companies convicted of occupational health and safety offences that resulted in workers’ death or serious injury.
It indicates little has changed despite government and Board assurances that followed release of the Toronto Star’s 2008 investigative report which drew public attention to the perils of experience rating – problems long identified by injured worker advocates and labour, and previously documented in the 2007 OFL report “The Perils of Experience Rating, Exposed!“.
Author Joel Schwartz, staff lawyer with the legal clinic Industrial Accident Victims’ Group of Ontario (IAVGO), compared experience rating data supplied by the WSIB under a freedom of information request with Ministry of Labour Court Bulletins for convictions under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). Over the three year period between 2011 and 2013, 135 employers who had been convicted of offences under OHSA were granted rebates on their premiums by the WSIB. In many of these cases, the rebates received by the companies were greater than their fines resulting from the conviction.
The report provides an overview of Ontario’s workplace safety system; background on WSIB’s experience rating system, its development and hidden costs; recommendations for change made by recent reviews, including Arthurs’ (ignored); findings from the analysis of 2011-2013 data; current Board proposals (“the more things change, the more they stay the same”) and what it would really take to fix what Harry Arthurs called a “moral crisis”.