WSIB 2019-21 strategic plan-statistical feints and hints

February 14, 2019

The WSIB has published a strategic plan for 2019-21. It contains, unsurprisingly, some bad news for workers- couched in the soothing language and deceptive numbers of fewer injuries and more return to work.
The plan can be found here-

The plan promises a reduction in the Serious Injury and fatality rate from 2017's benchmark rate of 3.9% by 2021. This is a deceptive use of statistics. Fatalities are normally hard to hide, and the Board adjudicates fatalities pretty much the same in almost every case over the years. They don't vary much. Serious Injuries are another story. They are normally defined as injuries where the worker receives a NEL award of 60% or more. The Board adjudicates NEL awards, and their policies for these adjudications do change over the years. It is a fairly straightforward exercise to reduce NEL awards by changing policy or even administrative direction. For instance, the WSIB changed the way that it adjudicated the impact of pre-existing conditions on NEL awards by administrative direction and later policy 5 years ago. Watch the NEL awards!

The strategic plan also promises a reduction in the number of workers receiving loss of earnings benefits at the 72 month mark from 2017's benchmark rate of 2% by 2021. The plan suggests that this will be achieved by increasing the number of workers who have returned to work at no loss of earnings within 12 months of the injury. You might get the idea that workers who have returned to work at no wage loss within 12 months, remain so employed all the way until the 72 month mark. It's true for some, but not for all. What the WSIB does not promise is that more workers will employed at no wage loss at the 72 month mark in 2021 than was true in 2017.

So, how can the WSIB achieve the bench-mark if that is not the case. It's easy- enhanced deeming. Workers injured in 2015 will be having their 72 month review in 2021. The minimum wage in 2015 was $11 per hour until October 1, and then $11.25 per hour for the remainder of the year. The minimum wage went up significantly to $14 per hour on January 1, 2018. The WSIB has been graduating in the effect of the minimum wage on the basis of 10% per year. What this means is that workers earning somewhat over the minimum wage in 2015 will find themselves deemed at minimum wage after but with no loss of earnings in 2021. It's magic.