Last week, the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) announced the 2022 preliminary average employer premium rate at $1.23 per hundred dollars of payroll, compared to the 2021 rate of $1.17. The announcement was made Oct. 13 at the WCB’s annual preliminary rate information meeting with Saskatchewan employers, workers and stakeholders.
To help mitigate this increase in the 2022 preliminary average premium rate, the board will set the preliminary average premium rate at $1.23, which is below what the rate model is requiring at $1.25.
“While this is a rate increase, the decisions we have made have allowed us to continue to have among the lowest premium rates in Canada,” said the WCB’s CEO Phillip Germain. “The two key drivers of the 2022 average premium rate are claim costs and payroll. The positive downward trend in claims experience over the past several years is flattening out and, in some cases, reversing. While the number of injury claims has gone down, inflation in claims-related costs, like healthcare, are increasing faster than payroll. This has put upward pressure on our premium rates in 2021 and 2022.”
Despite this year’s increase, Saskatchewan’s premium rates are likely to continue to remain among the lowest rates in Canada behind Manitoba and Alberta.
In 2021, the average premium rate was held at $1.17, below the required $1.23, to help lift pressure on employers due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Not charging the required premium rate in 2021 and 2022 will save employers about $13.4 million in 2021 and $3.3 million in 2022. The 2022 preliminary average premium rate is the first increase to the average premium rate since 2004.
While 90 per cent of employers achieved Mission: Zero in 2020, the WCB has been advising employers over the last couple of years that they could expect to see increases in the Saskatchewan premium rates if serious injuries, fatalities and durations did not improve. For the past several years, serious injuries accounted for approximately 12 per cent of total injuries, but more than 80 per cent of compensation costs. Learn more about WorkSafe’s Fatalities and Serious Injuries Strategy at www.worksafesask.ca/prevention/serious-injuries-and-fatalities/.
“We recognize the difficult economic situation employers faced in 2020 and many are continuing to face in 2021 as we slowly begin to recover and adjust to the new pandemic norms,” said Germain. “Economic and investment market uncertainty, a consistent number of serious injuries and fatalities, and increasing healthcare costs are putting this pressure on premium rates. However, recent positive economic announcements in agriculture, construction, government and mining have signaled that 2022 is likely to be more positive than 2020 and 2021.”
With the 2022 rate proposal:
- The overall 2022 proposed average employer rate will be $1.23 per hundred dollars of payroll.
- Actual industry premium rates for approximately 95 per cent of Saskatchewan’s employers covered by the WCB will increase next year.
- Actual industry premium rates for approximately five per cent of Saskatchewan’s employers covered by the WCB will see a decrease or no change for 2022.
Despite this increase in 2022, there are ways employers can influence their premium rates. Industry premium rates are affected by the degree to which employers in an industry are able to eliminate workplace injuries. In early 2021, the WCB launched its Business Transformation Program, which is focused on how the organization serves its customers and will transform every major aspect of the organization as it relates to the WCB’s people, processes and technology. Through the program, the WCB is working with customers, employers’ associations, labour organizations and safety associations to further reduce durations and serious injuries, as well as improve customer service. With a fully functioning safety program and a solid return-to-work program, employers can help prevent and manage work-related injuries.
“With 90 per cent of employers achieving Mission: Zero in 2020, it’s evident that Saskatchewan workers and employers are focusing their attention on safety efforts and creating safer workplaces in the province,” said the WCB’s chair Gord Dobrowolsky. “But we know there is still more work to be done to eliminate fatalities, injuries and suffering. As the economy continues to ramp up, let’s all focus on getting this work done on time, on budget and without injuries.”