WSIB head office moving from Toronto to London
The Ontario government has announced plans to relocate the head office for the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) from Toronto to London. The cities are about 200 kilometres apart.
“Our government has heard loud and clear from businesses and workers alike that they expect more from the WSIB, which is why we are driving generational change at the organization,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training, and Skills Development.
“In addition to raising compensation for injured workers, returning $1.5 billion to safe employers, and launching the first-ever review of the province’s occupational illness system, today’s announcement is another step in benefitting the people of Ontario for generations to come.”
Most provincial agencies are in Toronto
Most of Ontario’s over 150 government agencies are located in downtown Toronto.
The Community Jobs Initiative will ensure provincial agencies are not concentrated in Toronto’s downtown core, with other communities seeing greater local economic growth thanks to the knock-on effect of growing the number of jobs in their cities, the province said.
“Currently, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act requires the WSIB head office to be located in Toronto with some of the more expensive real estate costs in the country,” it said in a press release.
The current head office in Toronto has more than 600,000 square feet of office space and costs about $30 million annually.
It “is the only government agency with a geographic restriction for its head office embedded in legislation,” the province said.
“With 76 per cent of the office space occupied by our provincial agencies located in downtown Toronto, relocating them from some of the most expensive real estate in the world will not only save millions of taxpayers’ dollars but also grow our regional economies,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. “We’re getting this done by leveraging the government’s existing real estate holdings across Ontario and taking advantage of reduced rental costs in smaller communities.”
No employees will be asked to move
Jeffrey Lang, the CEO of the WSIB — who is from London — sent an email to staff reassuring them that nobody will be forced to move as a result of the relocation, according to the Toronto Star.
“I have not mandated anyone to move, and I don’t intend to,” Lang wrote to employees. “Some of our roles may be location specific, but our pandemic experience has proven that most of our work can be done well from many of our locations in the province.”
- The Community Jobs Initiative will see newly established agencies located regionally where appropriate, with the status of several existing ones being reconsidered for moves to new communities, in line with collective bargaining agreements and other commitments.
- The WSIB, which is completely funded by employer premiums, provides wage-loss benefits, medical coverage and support to help people get back to work after a work-related injury or illness.
- Earlier this month, Minister McNaughton directed the WSIB to explore an increase in compensation for workers who become injured or ill on the job.
- Raising compensation up to 90 per cent could mean, for an injured worker who earns $60,000 a year, receiving additional $2,315 per year.
- In April, Ontario began providing employers rebates of up to $1.5 billion as WSIB surplus funds were returned for the first time.
- The WSIB cut premium rates in 2022 by $168 million, bringing the total reduction in premiums since 2018 to $2.4 billion.
- The Board is one of the largest insurance organizations in North America, covering over five million people in more than 300,000 workplaces across Ontario.
- The WSIB is an arm’s length agency of the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development
Source: Government of Ontario