The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is calling on workers’ compensation boards (WCBs) across Canada to rebate surplus funds back to small business owners.

According to CFIB’s latest research snapshot, Workers’ Compensation and Surplus Distributions: A Small Business Perspective, seven provincial and territorial boards are in an over-funded position, meaning boards have exceeded their desired funding target.

“Obviously, workers compensation systems need to be adequately resourced to continue the important work of supporting workers and making workplaces safer. 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,” said Ryan Mallough, CFIB senior director of provincial affairs.

Some provinces have recently provided surplus distributions. This year, Ontario rebated $1.5 billion, while Manitoba rebated $95 million. In 2021, Prince Edward Island provided a $25 million rebate. CFIB is urging other provinces to follow suit and deliver meaningful financial relief to small business owners.

“The last two years have been devastating for small businesses across the country. Only 40 per cent are back to normal revenues, and two in three are still carrying COVID-related debt,” said Marvin Cruz, CFIB director, research. “Getting excess WCB money back to small business owners will not only provide some much-needed support, but also add some fairness back into the workers compensation system.”

While seven boards across Canada have rebate policies, last year Ontario became the first province to legislate mandatory rebates when overfunding reaches a certain level. CFIB is also calling on all provinces to follow Ontario’s example to ensure certainty and consistency for small business owners.  

CFIB is calling on all governments to:  

  • Lower employer premiums or rebate surplus funds to employers, if funding ratio exceeds its target funding, with a stronger preference to rebate eligible employers 
  • Implement mandatory distribution policies where there are none 
  • Legislate surplus distribution policies, as in Ontario