CFIB wants Alberta to rebate WCB surplusses back to businesses

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has called on workers’ compensation boards (WCBs) across Canada to rebate surplus funds to small business owners and legislate surplus rebates.

Seven provincial and territorial boards are currently in over-funded positions, according to the CFIB’s latest research snapshot –  Workers’ Compensation and Surplus Distributions: A Small Business Perspective.

Despite Alberta and several other provinces having rebate policies, only Ontario has legislated mandatory rebates when overfunding reaches a certain level.

“Although WCB Alberta provided a 50% per cent rebate in 2020 and has a policy to rebate excess funds this is merely a discretionary policy,” said CFIB’s Alberta Provincial Affairs Director Annie Dormuth. “We are therefore calling on the Alberta government to follow Ontario’s lead and legislate surplus rebates.”

The CFIB snapshot indicates British Columbia’s workers’ compensation board was 153% higher than its liabilities, while its targeted funding ratio is set at 130%. In that province, rebating surplus could put almost $2.9 billion back to employers. Nationally, CFIB estimates the surplus to be $5.6 billion or rebates ranging from $644 in the Yukon to $6,189 in British Columbia for businesses with five employees.

“Obviously, workers compensation systems need to be adequately resourced to continue the important work of supporting workers and making workplaces safer,” Dormuth said. “But when you have funds reaching levels that are millions – in some cases billions – of dollars above even their upper targets, it’s time to return that money to hard-working small business owners.”

CFIB is calling on all governments to legislate surplus distribution policies, as in Ontario;  lower employer premiums or rebate surplus funds to employers, if funding ratio exceeds its target funding, with a stronger preference to rebate eligible employers; and implement mandatory distribution policies where there are none

You can read the full CFIB snapshot here.

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