Regina, Sask., June 2, 2020 – The Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB)’s 2019 annual report was tabled in the provincial legislature today. The WCB remained fully funded in 2019 with the ability to cover the future costs of all claims in the system.
“It continues to be important for us to keep a solid funding position to ensure benefits and programs are available to cover workers who are injured at work. As well, employers can be sure that they will be protected from lawsuits and that they will continue to have an effective, efficient compensation system,” said Gord Dobrowolsky, the WCB’s chairperson. “As our labour force has grown over the past decade and as we’ve been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic recently, workplace safety becomes more and more vital for Saskatchewan.”
The WCB’s 2019 results include:
- The workplace Total injury rate in 2019 decreased to 4.95 injuries per 100 workers. This is a nine per cent decrease from the 2018 Total injury rate of 5.44 per 100 workers.
- The 2019 Time Loss injury rate decreased to 1.86 injuries per 100 workers, down from the 2018 rate of 1.99 injuries per 100 workers. This represents a 6.53 per cent reduction from 2018 rates.
- Claims costs were $281.0 million in 2019 (up from $278.2 million in 2018). The benefits liabilities increased to $1,328.1 million in 2019 (compared to $1,280.9 million in 2018).
- Claim durations and the number of Time Loss claims are two key drivers of compensation costs paid. The average duration of Time Loss claims decreased to 41.52 days in 2019 (compared to 41.89 days in 2018). The WCB accepted 8,036 Time Loss claims in 2019. This is down from 8,151 Time Loss claims accepted in 2018.
- The WCB’s Injury Fund was at $567.3 million as of year-end 2019 (compared to $399.8 million in 2018).
- The WCB had premium revenue of $267.2 million in 2019 (up from $256.5 million in 2018) and investment income of $277.1 million in 2019 (compared to loss of $41.6 million in 2018).
- The average premium rate for 2019 dropped to $1.17 per hundred dollars of payroll, down from $1.19 in 2018. This is the lowest premium rate in more than 30 years.
- The WCB covered 433,622 full-time equivalent (FTE) workers in 2019 compared to 410,600 FTE workers in 2018.
In 2019, the WCB established the Employer Resource Centre to assist employers in navigating the Saskatchewan workers’ compensation system. The centre provides support materials and connects employers with the right person at the WCB to ensure employers have the tools they need.
For the fourth year in a row, 88 per cent of employers achieved zero injuries and zero fatalities in the workplace.
“This is a huge success and a testament to the preventative measures being taken in workplaces around our province. 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 almost 52 per cent,” said Phil Germain, the WCB’s CEO. “This suggests that we still have a great deal of work to do, but it also shows that we are moving in the right direction. Even as we’ve seen a decade of improvement, the challenge for us all is to continue to keep our injury rates declining.”
While last year’s injury rates decreased, the 2019 Time Loss injury rate remained the same as it was in 2017 and 2016.
“The 2019 rate is an improvement. However, it means we cannot become complacent in our efforts to make all workplaces safe in our province,” said Germain. “Sadly, we lost 36 individuals in work-related deaths last year. Of those, 17 were from occupational diseases and 19 were from traumatic events such as heart attacks and motor vehicle crashes. Each one of these deaths had a shattering impact on the workers’ families and communities.”
Also in 2019, WorkSafe Saskatchewan, the partnership between the WCB and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety, launched the Fatalities and Serious Injuries strategy. The strategy was a joint effort between WorkSafe, employers and labour representatives. The 2019 year-end update highlights what was accomplished during the year to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries in the province.
“Safety in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility. The Fatalities and Serious Injuries strategy is meant to build on the work already taking place in our province to reduce serious injuries and fatalities,” said Germain. “Even one injury is one too many and we need to work together so everyone goes home safely every day.”
The WCB’s 2019 annual report is available online and the WCB’s executive will provide further details at its annual general meeting teleconference scheduled for June 24.