As New Brunswick workplaces become safer, compensation rates tumble
Health & Safety New Brunswick Workers Compensation
By John Chilibeck, The Daily Gleaner
The organization that oversees and enforces worker safety in New Brunswick continues to drop the rates employers pay to make sure there’s enough money to compensate people injured on the job.
It is a sign that workplaces are becoming safer overall, WorkSafeNB says.
The Crown corporation announced Thursday that the 2024 average rate has been set at $1.18 per $100 of assessed payroll, down from $1.31 in 2023. That’s an average 10 per cent savings for businesses and other employers.
The new rate is the second lowest in the country and the lowest rate in Atlantic Canada, based on available information, the organization said.
“I’m pleased to see the rate decrease again this year as it benefits not only employers but all New Brunswickers,” said Tim Petersen, WorkSafeNB’s president and chief executive officer, in a release.
“Assessment rates reflect the safety and return-to-work outcomes of our province’s workforce and New Brunswick has a positive story to share.”
Petersen said fewer workplace accidents and better rehabilitation of injured workers — ensuring they return to work faster — improved the bottom line.
It’s a huge turnaround for the organization after businesses complained several years ago their payroll costs had skyrocketed. The latest decrease means rates in New Brunswick have been going down five years in a row, from a high of $2.65 in 2019 to $1.18 in 2024, a 55 per cent drop.
WorkSafeNB noted it had reached a funding position of 148 per cent of what’s estimated to be needed in its large compensation fund, well above the funding target of up to 125 per cent.
As a result, a portion of the surplus has been paid back through a $0.21 credit included in the $1.18 average rate.
The rate reduction announcement comes as WorkSafeNB asks the provincial government for benefit improvements for injured workers and their families. Among the board’s recommended legislative changes are raising the loss of earnings benefit from 85 to 90 per cent and increasing the maximum annual earnings threshold. These proposed legislative adjustments would line up New Brunswick’s benefits with those provided in other provinces.
“The sustainability of the workers’ compensation system is based on striking and maintaining a fair balance between the needs of both workers and employers,” Petersen said. “Reducing the average assessment rate while improving benefits further realizes this goal — the best possible benefits for injured workers and their families, while maintaining fair and affordable rates for employers.”
Reduction in rate for firefighters
While the average rate is $1.18, employers’ individual rates will vary based on their industry and individual safety performance. Fewer claims, lower costs, and safer workplaces equal lower rates for employers. New Brunswick employers will be able to view their individual assessment rates in MyServices by early November, the release said.
WorkSafeNB also announced a reduction in the rate charged to fund the Firefighters’ Compensation Act’s disability fund, from $360 to $220 per firefighter. A consultation, expected in early 2024, will explore the possibility of expanding the list of cancers covered for firefighters to align with other jurisdictions in Canada.