Why is this day so important?
Recent statistics from the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) show that in 2015, 852 workplace deaths were recorded throughout the country. Although this number is a significant decrease from the 919 and 902 fatalities recorded in 2014 and 2013 respectively, this statistic still represents a harrowing 2.3 deaths every day. This number, added to the 232,629 accepted “lost time” claims by the various provincial compensation boards indicate there is room for significant improvement when it comes to health and safety in the workplace.
In fact, according to the Ministry of Labour, the total number of Traumatic Fatalities in Ontario (both recorded by WSIB and the Ministry of Labour) totaled 72 in 2015, which although is also a substantial improvement compared to 2014 (81) and 2013 (102), these statistics do not take into account the number of fatalities related to occupational disease, nor critical injuries.
What’s being done?
The Ministry of Labour is currently investing into strategic research to address the following: the improvement of health and safety in Ontario workplaces, enhancing the delivery of effective occupational health and safety services and products, as well as strengthening the occupational health and safety system in Ontario. According to the Ministry of Labour, key priority areas for 2016-2017:
As the above statistics indicate, this information is valuable to both employers and workers alike as what the numbers do not show is just how many people are directly, and indirectly affected by workplace tragedies.
The National Day of Mourning recognizes family, friends, co-workers and loved ones who have been affected by these workplace calamities. Maintaining a "culture of safety" at your business is critical for protecting the well-being of your employees and for creating a productive, effective working environment. Let's work together so that everyone gets a chance to go home.
If you have questions about your company's Health & Safety program or would like to speak to an expert, please don't hesitate to contact Anna Aceto-Guerin at email@example.com or (519) 624-0800.
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April 20th marks the pseudo-international holiday for cannabis culture, known in many communities as “420” (pronounced four-twenty). In several cities around the world, people gather to both celebrate, smoke and peacefully advocate for the legalization of cannabis. In Canada, the largest gatherings on April 20th take place in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton. One only need do a simple Google search to realize the growing following for this festival like gathering of music, vendors, booths, official sponsors and prominent speakers.
When Canadian users gather for this year’s “420” however, they will have a different, long-anticipated reason to celebrate: the April 13th Liberal announcement of the legislation which decriminalized marijuana. This announcement set many Canadian employers ablaze with questions as to how they are required to respond to the changing legal and social Canadian landscape.
What does the legalization of marijuana mean for Canadian employers?
The first thing employers need to realize is that the current legislation is merely a stepping stone for the legalization of recreational marijuana as the actual laws regarding the production, use, sale and distribution will fall to provincial legislation and likely not until July 2018. This means that before Canadian employers become dazed and confused, they have time to prepare their businesses for the pending legal and social changes.
One major change employers should recognize is the social shift away from conservative views on recreational marijuana. Does this mean employers should be prepared to excuse unsafe behaviour of stoned workers? Of course not! It means that employers should review and modify their workplace policies and procedures to reflect the removal of references to marijuana usage as “illegal”. Employers will still have the right to restrict the use and possession of marijuana in the workplace. Specifically, Ontario employers should be aware that the same restrictions of smoking tobacco in the workplace will apply to the smoking of marijuana. Employers also have the right to discipline employees for recreational use of marijuana if the impact of the drug impacts performance, just like with alcohol.
However, also just like with alcohol, employers are required to accommodate disabilities to the point of undue hardship, which means employers need to be mindful of the use of marijuana to treat certain medical conditions and illnesses. Human Rights legislation would therefore suggest the range of accommodation would depend on an employer’s financial ability to accommodate, the type of work performed and the impact of marijuana use on the employee’s essential duties. Employers should be aware however that such accommodations should be balanced with their broader duty to provide a safe workplace under section 25 of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act. This means that with safety-sensitive occupations, such as those involving heavy equipment, a balanced approach is required when accommodating medical marijuana in the workplace.
Employers should also be aware that not every government agency is prepared for the implications and consequences of the Cannabis Act. For instance, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act does not have specific policy regarding the use, distribution or coverage of medical marijuana. Currently, the Tribunal approach to the entitlement for medical marijuana is as follows:
Employers should remember that until all the above potential changes officially come into force, current restrictions remain in place. However, it is in their best interest for employers to begin reviewing and amending their policies and procedures to reflect potential workplace changes.
Do you have questions regarding medical or recreational marijuana in the workplace? Contact Anna Aceto-Guerin at Clear Path Employer Services with your questions or concerns.
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If you’ve read Clear Path’s most recent blog, you know that WSIB is heading toward fundamental change, not only to its method of business classification, but also to its application of premium rates.
So many questions to consider with these new changes. Will my business’ classification change? Will my premiums change? Will I still receive a rebate? We plan to explore all of these questions and more in our three-part blog series that will focus on the new method of Employer Classification (part one), Class Level Premium Rate Settings (part two) and Employer Level Premium Rate Adjustments (part three).
Will my Business’ Classification Change?
The answer to that questions is….maybe. One of the key goals of the proposed Preliminary Rate Framework is to implement a “streamlined and simpler classification structure”. The word “simpler” is key! In order to determine premium rates, WSIB’s current system groups businesses into nine Classes, 155 Rate Groups and 840 Classification Units. The proposed new system would replace this with a simplified 34 Class Structure.
With the elimination of the 155 Rate Groups, WSIB plans on grouping businesses based predominantly on business activity. This change is key!
Unlike the current system, the new system will determine a company’s predominate class (fit) by the largest percentage of your insurable earnings. For example, your company makes cabinets (manufacturing) and 80 per cent of insurable earnings are dedicated to its production. However, you also install cabinets (construction) and 20 per cent of insurable earnings are dedicated to this business activity. Under the new system, your cabinet making company would be classified only under manufacturing. Seems simplified, right? Maybe. But what are the implications to your company?
This change will likely not affect smaller companies who have only ever been classified under one Classification Unit in the current system. However, in the case of the above cabinet making company, WSIB will use the last three years of insurable earnings to determine the company’s predominate class.
If you are a company with multiple business activities, you may wish to think about how your “predominate class” may be categorized. Will this significantly change where you fit in the 34 Classification Structure? Did you move from manufacturing to construction and will one of these categories have primarily higher premiums? Or perhaps you moved to a different classification with historically lower premiums and yet it’s likely you may have higher claims costs simply due to the nature of one of your business activities. How might this affect your experience? Will this be a positive or negative change for your company?
Part Two will explore how WSIB plans to address these potential pitfalls through the implementation of Class Level Premium Rate Settings. Check back soon for that update!
We want to hear from you! Should WSIB consider other factors when determining a predominate class? What about risk? What do you think? Contact Anna Aceto-Guerin from Clear Path Employer Services with your opinion or any questions on how the Proposed Rate Framework’s classification method.
Want to learn more about how to get yourself in a prime position on your NEER prior to the implementation of this new system? Join us at one of our spring NEER workshops to learn more.
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