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New workers' compensation rates confusing, says business chamber

One hundred more people were employed in the NWT in October compared to September, according to the latest Labour Force Report from the NWT Bureau of Statistics. Wikimedia photo

The rationale behind the new workers compensation rates for 2020 should be clearer, says the NWT Chamber of Commerce.

The list of industries published by the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC) shows an average increase from 2019 to 2020 of about $0.30 per $100 of accessible payroll for most jobs.

However, government jobs, which are listed under the one category of Government of the NWT and Nunavut and Public Utilities saw their rates rise by more than 60 cents from $1.01 in 2019 to $1.62 in 2020.

The NWT Chamber of Commerce argues it is problematic for all job categories in the GNWT to be lumped together in one class by the Workers Safety and Compensation Commission.
Wikimedia photo

GNWT jobs form one category because under the Workers' Compensation Act, the GNWT is considered as one employer, as WSCC spokesperson Heidi Held explained to News/North.
“Employers are classified in the industry they support rather than the jobs performed in their operations,” Held said.

“Each year when the rates are set, the overall cost associated with all claims within a subclass are included to ensure the rate covers all the current and future costs associated with workplace injuries. Therefore, even though there are varied duties within the GNWT the rate reflects the industry experience as a whole.”

But including the varying types of government jobs under one category is problematic, said Jenni Bruce, president of the NWT Chamber of Commerce and area manager with Yellowknife Midwest Property Management.

“They have a specific rate for all GNWT employees, regardless of the job they have. We believe there are more injuries and claims through GNWT,” she said.

“We don't feel the rates have been justified. We don't know the rationale behind the rate hikes because they're not transparent. They always say that claims costs reflect rate hikes yet they never show a breakdown of claims cost by sector or a specific breakdown of GNWT claims, for example.”

The GNWT job category's rate increased because the claims cost levels rose “over the experience period of calendar years 2014 to 2018 relative to the experience period used to determine 2019 assessment rates,” according to the WSCC.

Held said the WSCC can't publicly release employer-specific claims or assessment information.

While the rates for most jobs rose this year by at least $0.30, they rose minimally for some and decreased with others.

Outdoor recreation and tourism dropped from $6.84 to $6.76; mining services decreased from $4.26 to $3.61; general construction went down from $5.70 to $5.63; and ground transportation fell from $2.77 to $2.66.

Most of those categories experienced rate reductions as a result of the decrease in claims cost levels, the WSCC said. Closer attention to employee safety is a contributing factor to the decrease.