The Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB) released its 2004 Annual Report recently, reinforcing its commitment to injury prevention, and maintaining positive financial results. The WCB also released its 2005 to 2009 Five Year Plan focusing on continued efforts with government’s Workplace Safety and Health Division (WSHD) to create and maintain a safety culture in Manitoba.
The WCB and WSHD will reportedly continue their comprehensive injury prevention program under the banner SAFE Work. The SAFE message – Spot the hazard, Assess the risk, Find a safer way, Everyday is the primary tool to raise awareness of the need for safety and to change people’s behaviour.
“The number of workers being injured and losing time from work has decreased from a high of 5.8 per 100 covered workers in 2000 to 4.5 per 100 in 2004,” said Interim Chairperson Tom Farrell. “That tells us the prevention message is being heard and valued by Manitobans. But we must persist in our prevention efforts to reduce the devastating impact of workplace injuries on workers, their families and their employers.”
The WCB posted an operating surplus of $9.7 million in 2004, largely due to an 11.8 percent return on investments. In 2004, new accounting standards established by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants (CICA) were adopted for 2004 that directly affect the method of accounting for investments. In past years, WCBs across Canada recorded investment gains and losses over a period of five years, to decrease the volatility of investment market results and thereby ensure premium rate stability. The new standards require that gains and losses be recorded in the year in which they occur, resulting in increased volatility of investment income. As premium rates are impacted by investment income, the WCB revised its funding policy to increase the reserve target level.
This higher reserve level will allow the WCB to absorb the ups and downs in the investment cycles and thereby, decrease volatility in premium rates.
The combined results of strong investment income and a reduction in injuries due to sustained prevention efforts, has allowed the Manitoba WCB to keep the 2005 average assessment premium charged to employers the lowest of all Canadian jurisdictions, at $1.70 per $100 of assessable payroll.
“That’s a distinct advantage for Manitoba employers,” said Doug Sexsmith, WCB President and CEO. “The Manitoba WCB is one of the few compensation agencies across the country that is fully funded. We’re in a strong financial position, with assets in excess of liabilities by $130 million.”
Injury prevention remains a key priority for the WCB. The WCB and WSHD continue to work together to build a culture of safety in Manitoba and meet the goal of reducing the time loss injury rate by 25% over five years.
With a reduction of 22% since 2000, the goal is reportedly well within reach.
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