Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
IAIABC: Please provide a description of your organization.
Aaron Lazarus, WSIB: The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is an independent trust agency of the Government of Ontario that administers compensation and no-fault insurance for workplaces in Ontario, Canada. The WSIB is the sole provider of workers’ compensation insurance in Ontario. Founded in 1914, we cover over five million people in more than 300,000 workplaces across our province. Our staff are spread across 14 regional hubs across the province and register and support over 200,000 claims every year.
We’re here to help, so when an injury or illness happens on the job, the WSIB moves quickly to provide wage-loss benefits, medical coverage and support to help people get back to work. Funded by businesses, we also provide access to industry-specific health and safety information.
IAIABC: How does your organization serve the workers' compensation industry or what do you see as the most important role you play in the workers' compensation industry?
AL: Our vision is to make Ontario the safest and healthiest place to work and set the standard for outcomes in recovery, return to work, occupational health care and claims decision-making, all in a financially responsible and accountable way.
Our recent focus has been on improving outcomes for people with injuries or illnesses to return to work and modernizing our services to improve people’s experience with us.
Our services and benefits go beyond compensation for wage loss to include all required health care and medication, coordination with the employer to facilitate timely, safe, and lasting return to work, and educational and training support for those unable to return to their pre-injury positions. Our teams build plans that combine medical care with safe, gradual return to work. We visit work sites in person to verify that appropriate, modified work is made available whenever possible.
In addition, with the elimination of a historic unfunded liability in 2018, we have been able to lower premium rates four years in a row and implement a new premium rate setting model that increases fairness and transparency and incents health and safety improvements.
IAIABC: What do you see as some of the major challenges the industry is facing and how can we as a community address them?
AL:The COVID-19 global pandemic is shining a spotlight on workplace health and safety. Part of that focus is on the growth of precarious employment and the gig economy – specifically, what standards are in place for health and safety and how people engaged in this type of work are protected in the event of a work-related injury or illness.
Another challenge being faced by our industry is the evolving science around occupational disease, particularly cancer. Ensuring the latest scientific evidence is being evaluated and applied consistently is a pan-jurisdictional challenge that will require collaboration on a shared approach.
As a government agency, the WSIB also faces challenges similar to other public sector organizations globally to provide service options and a level of service comparable to what people already receive from financial institutions, retailers and other private sector companies.
The WSIB is striving to expand secure digital service channels, allowing for personalized self-serve options. In order to capitalize on modern technology, we need to modernize our processes too. We have begun this work with new online services and have embarked on a multi-year project to bring these changes to life, while maintaining fiscal responsibility.
IAIABC: Are there any projects/programs/initiatives going on at your organization that you are particularly excited or enthusiastic about?
AL: Since 2018, the WSIB has introduced a number of new online services that allow people and businesses to:
- Track their individual claim status, payment, health care and medication coverage and send direct messages online
- Upload claim-related documents directly to their file, reducing handling time by over 90%
- Perform various account maintenance activities
- Securely log in to view and analyze their past claims history and costs
- Search any registered business to see their health and safety history and compare them to other businesses or across their industry
Going forward, we will be looking for new ways to leverage the large quantities of data that we collect, as an asset, to provide decision-making support or even to help us automate some of our business processes, where this makes sense.
We have also recently launched a new Health and Safety Excellence program that connects businesses of all sizes with approved providers to help develop, expand, and maintain workplace health and safety programs. The program spans 36 topics, includes validation audits, and incents businesses with rebates and other non-financial recognition opportunities.
IAIABC: Why is your organization a member of the IAIABC? What would you tell others about the benefits of membership?
AL: So many of the challenges and opportunities facing our industry are common across jurisdictions. The number and diversity of IAIABC member jurisdictions make it very likely that others are seeing the same challenges and opportunities that we are. We’ve found it extremely valuable to hear what other members are working on and what approaches they’ve tried to meet challenges and opportunities. As diverse as our jurisdictions are, what we have in common outweighs our differences.