Saskatchewan’s workers’ compensation system remains fully funded
- The WCB remains fully funded at 112.4 per cent
- Workplace Total injury rate decreases to 4.46 per 100 workers
- Time Loss injury rate decreases to 1.78 per 100 workers
The Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) shared 2020 results at its annual general meeting (AGM), held today in Regina. The WCB’s executive team provided attendees with an overview of the WCB’s operating and financial highlights and improved statistics on workplace injuries and fatalities in Saskatchewan in 2020. To protect the health and safety of participants, and to follow social distancing guidelines, the AGM was held by video conference this year.
The WCB remained fully funded in 2020, ensuring the organization has the ability to cover the future costs of all claims in the system. This is within the targeted funding percentage range of 105 per cent to 120 per cent.
“A solid funding position is essential to meet the need for benefits and programs to help injured workers in our province,” says the WCB’s CEO Phil Germain. “Employers can also be confident that their needs will be met, as we continue to offer an efficient and effective compensation system.”
Relief was provided to employers during the pandemic through waiver of penalties and interest charges for late premium payments and underestimates. Payment plans were offered and payroll revisions were prioritized to help employers reduce premiums. The WCB held the average employer premium rate for 2021 at $1.17 per hundred dollars of payroll.
Injury data highlights in 2020 include:
- In 2020, 90 per cent of Saskatchewan workplaces reported zero injuries or fatalities, compared to 88 per cent each of the previous four years. Last year, 34 workplace fatalities were reported, down from 36 in 2019.
- The workplace Total injury rate in 2020 decreased to 4.46 injuries per 100 workers, representing a 10 per cent decrease from the 2019 Total injury rate of 4.95 per 100 workers.
- The 2020 Time Loss injury rate decreased to 1.78 injuries per 100 workers, down 4.3 per cent from the 2019 rate of 1.86 injuries per 100 workers. The 2020 Time Loss injury rate is the lowest rate in more than a decade.
- The WCB continued to implement initiatives outlined in its Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy, launched in December 2019.
Financial highlights of the WCB’s 2020 results include:
- Claim costs were $319.6 million in 2020, up from $281.0 million 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 Injury Fund finances injured workers’ claims including earnings loss, physical and vocational rehabilitation, prevention initiatives and other obligations under the WCB’s legislation, The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013.
- As a result of lower premium revenue, a decline in investment markets, increased claim costs and operational challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the WCB posted a loss of $83 million in 2020.
- The WCB had premium revenues 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 WCB covered 402,306 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers in 2020, compared to 433,622 in 2019.
“We are certainly encouraged by the reductions in the number of injuries and fatalities last year,” Germain acknowledged. “However, even one workplace injury or death is one too many. That’s why we will continue our efforts, working with our customers and partners, to bring those numbers down further this year and in the years ahead.”
The WCB is also committed to meeting the needs of workers who suffer emotional and psychological injuries related to their jobs. That commitment takes on extra importance when considering the long-term mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a result, the WCB fully launched the psychological injuries unit in 2020 to better serve workers with psychological health claims. Established in the fall of 2019, the unit has reduced claim decision times by 12 days. The unit provides quicker access to treatment and there has been a five per cent increase in accepted claims since the unit started.
As well, the WCB launched a 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.
“We are continuing to make real progress in meeting the WCB’s vision of eliminating injuries and restoring abilities,” said Germain. “Back 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. While there is still more work to do, those results indicate we’re on the right path. By all of us working together – government, safety organizations, workers and employers – we will continue bringing injury rates down and making sure Saskatchewan workers are able to go home safely to their families at the end of each work day.”
For a more detailed look at last year’s results, the WCB’s 2020 annual report is available online at www.wcbsask.com.
Carolyn Van der Veen
Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board