Workers' Compensation Board in Saskatchewan releases 2020 operational results

The Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) remained fully funded in 2020, with the ability to cover the future costs of all claims in the system.

The WCB’s 2020 annual report was tabled in the provincial legislature Friday.

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“Having a solid funding position is important to ensure continued benefits and programs to help workers who are injured at work,” said WCB chairperson Gord Dobrowolsky. “As well, employers can be sure they are protected from lawsuits and that they will continue to have an effective, efficient compensation system.”

The WCB’s 2020 results include:

The workplace total injury rate (total number of new workplace injury claims reported to, and accepted by, the WCB in the year) in 2020 decreased to 4.46 injuries per 100 workers. This is a 10 per cent decrease from the 2019 total injury rate of 4.95 per 100 workers.

The 2020 time loss injury rate (total number of new workplace injury claims reported to, and accepted by, the WCB in the year that resulted in time lost from work) decreased to 1.78 injuries per 100 workers, down from the 2019 rate of 1.86 injuries per 100 workers. This represents a decrease of 0.08 per 100 workers, or of 4.3 per cent, from the 2019 rate. The 2020 time koss injury rate is the lowest rate in more than a decade.

Claim costs were $319.6 million in 2020 (up from $281.0 million in 2019). The benefits liabilities, which represent legislated obligations to pay the costs of all existing claims into the future, increased to $1,420.4 million in 2020 (compared to $1,328.1 million in 2019).

Claim durations and the number of time loss claims are two key drivers of compensation costs paid. The average duration of time loss claims increased to 45.27 days in 2020 (compared to 41.52 days in 2019). The WCB accepted 7,134 time loss claims in 2020. This is down from 8,036 time loss claims accepted in 2019.

The WCB’s injury fund was at $479.6 million as of year-end 2020 (compared to $567.3 million in 2019).

The WCB had premium revenue of $255.6 million in 2020 (down from $267.2 million in 2019) and investment income of $77.4 million in 2020 (compared to $277.1 million in 2019).

The average premium rate for 2020 remained at $1.17 per hundred dollars of payroll. This is the same premium rate as 2019.

The WCB covered 402,306 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers in 2020, compared to 433,622 FTE workers in 2019.

In 2020, the WCB’s focus remained on its staff and customers – both workers and employers.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the WCB has worked to maintain its service to injured workers, with a particular focus on psychological health, by fully launching the psychological injuries unit to better serve workers with psychological health claims. As well, the WCB launched the Psychological Health and Safety Resource Centre on the WorkSafe Saskatchewan website for workers and employers, as part of a three-year partnership with renowned Canadian psychologist Dr. Joti Samra.

The WCB’s Employer Resource Centre, established in 2019, continued to provide support for employers across the province. The centre provides support materials and connects employers with the right person at the WCB to ensure employers have the tools they need.

In 2020, 90 per cent of employers achieved zero injuries and zero fatalities in the workplace, a slight improvement over the 88 per cent recorded each of the last four years.

“Despite the many challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented to us, we are continuing to make real progress in meeting the WCB’s vision of eliminating injuries and restoring abilities,” says the WCB’s CEO Phil Germain. “In 2008, Saskatchewan had the second highest workplace injury rate in Canada. Now, thanks to the health and safety efforts of people around the province, our workplace injury rate has dropped by more than 56 per cent since then. Last year, fewer people and their families were affected because someone was hurt at work.”

The 2020 Time Loss injury rate improved to 1.78 per 100 workers, compared to the 2019 rate of 1.86 per 100 workers.

“The 2020 rate is an improvement. However, we cannot become complacent in our efforts to ensure the safety of all Saskatchewan workplaces,” says Germain. “Sadly, we lost 34 individuals in work-related deaths last year. Of those, 16 were from occupational disease and 18 were from motor vehicle crashes, traumatic events and heart attacks. Each one of these deaths had a shattering impact on the workers’ families and communities.”

In December 2019, WorkSafe Saskatchewan launched the three-year Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy. This strategy works to address the high-risk industries, occupations and the tasks within those industries that are resulting in fatalities and serious injuries.

“Collaboration with our stakeholders is critical to understanding industry needs and delivering sustainable injury prevention outcomes,” says Germain. “By working together on initiatives like the strategy, we can all contribute to bringing our injury rates down and keeping all workers safe on the job.”

The WCB’s 2020 annual report is available at www.wcbsask.com and the WCB’s executive will provide further details at its annual general meeting teleconference scheduled for May 26.  

© Copyright Estevan Mercury

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