WSIB offering relief, rebates to help make Ontario workplaces safer
The ripple effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has touched almost every corner of our day-to-day lives. It has changed how many of us work, and has shone a brighter spotlight on effective health and safety practices in the workplace.
At the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in Toronto, the pandemic has sharpened our focus on meeting the evolving needs and priorities of both injured and ill people, and the businesses we serve.
At the forefront of every decision we make is the need to ensure we are here to help people no matter what, and be nimble and responsive to changing circumstances caused by the pandemic.
Response to COVID-19
To improve our customer service, we sped up our efforts to meet the people we serve where they spend most of their time — online.
Our new online services make it easier for people to submit a claim online, and allow people to see the real-time status of their claim, payment and benefits information, and send us messages right on our website.
This cuts down the need to call and wait on hold, and makes sure claim documents are on file so that decisions can be made quickly.
We also put in place a dedicated team to review COVID-19 related claims, working to process well over 16,000 claims so far, so that people get access to the health care services and payments they need, as quickly as possible.
For businesses, we have taken action to meet their immediate needs, and to help them strengthen health and safety in their own workplaces to be pandemic-ready.
To help reduce the financial burden of the pandemic on Ontario businesses, we gave them the opportunity to defer premiums due between March and August 2020.
The 190,000 businesses who took advantage of the program are not required to repay the deferred amounts until June 30, 2021, interest- free.
We acted quickly to provide this relief at a time when businesses needed to be laser-focused on safety and staying operational, not worry about premium payments. We were glad to be able to provide this type of financial flexibility at such a crucial time for businesses.
Health and Safety Excellence program
Our Health and Safety Excellence program, which is designed to help business’s build or enhance their health and safety practices, was adjusted to focus on five pandemic readiness topics that address the challenges of operating safely during a pandemic and reducing COVID-19 related concerns in the workplace.
Despite the impact of the pandemic, we are pleased that more than 2,000 businesses have enrolled in the program in its first year.
These businesses have also received approximately $1.5 million back in rebates this February for their participation. These rebates help businesses to reinvest in their health and safety programs, and ultimately, make their workplaces as safe as they possibly can be.
The bright spotlight on health and safety in the workplace as a result of this pandemic is a challenge and opportunity for all of us.
Through innovation, partnerships and smart incentives, the WSIB is working to meet the needs of people who need our help, and support Ontario businesses in their efforts to be even safer.
Elizabeth Witmer is the chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in Toronto.