September 15, 2009
Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has announced that it will freeze premium rates for employers in rate groups with “good health and safety records.”

For 2010, the WSIB intends to use the same method for setting premium rates that has been used in previous years, but with one important change. While premium rates will be frozen for rate groups determined to have good health-and-safety performance, rate increases will occur for poor-performing rate groups.

For many LO lawn care members, the bad news continues. While all other horticulture trade sectors have maintained the 2009 rates for 2010, the group that most lawn care businesses are under will be hit with a 3.1 per cent rate hike. WSIB includes the lawn care sector under the Category 184, under the heading, Poultry Farms and Agricultural Services. This is the third consecutive year the group has seen rate hikes. In 2009, it jumped 2.0 per cent, while in 2008 the rate went up 1.3 per cent. The 2010 rate increase is set at $2.54.

The landscape groups that will not face rate increases include nursery growers, landscaping and related services, snow plowing and garden centres.  Any business that questions the category that it has been placed in, may appeal the designation to the WSIB.

Bad safety records cause rate hikes

“The costs of running Ontario’s workplace safety and insurance system have been impacted by recent increases to benefits, by poor investment returns, and by the current global financial crisis,” said WSIB Chair Steve Mahoney. He went on to say that employers in rate groups that place the greatest financial burden on the system (due to fatalities, injuries and illnesses in their workplaces) will have premium rate increases.

Mahoney warned, “We are doing all we can in these difficult economic times to avoid placing undue financial burdens on employers. At the same time, we give fair warning that if the WSIB’s economic situation does not improve, we will have to consider introducing premium rate increases in the future.”

The WSIB maximum insurable earnings ceiling for 2010 is $77,600. This is an increase of four per cent from $74,600 in 2009. Changes to the Maximum Insurable Earnings Ceiling are directly linked to changes in average earnings in Ontario as measured by Statistics Canada, and provisions under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

Mahoney said, “Employers will continue to be eligible for rebates under the WSIB’s incentive-based programs. Now more than ever it is important to recognize good performers and ensure that poor performers pay their share and cover their costs to the system. Health and safety is the best investment any organization can commit to, especially in today’s challenging economic climate. Investing in safety saves lives, and spares workers and their families the often devastating financial and emotional effects of workplace injuries.

The WSIB has stated that it released the preliminary rates in order to assist employers with their financial forecasting and budgeting for next year. Approval of the final premium rates for 2010 is scheduled to take place at the WSIB Board of Directors’ meeting in September, states a WSIB press release.

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WSIB rates for horticulture industry categories

Category Number Sector WSIB Description 2010 Premium Rate Rate Increase
181 Nursery Growers Fishing and Miscellaneous Farming $3.14 0%
184 Lawn Care Poultry Farms and and Agricultural Services $2.54 3.1%
190 Landscape and Related Services   $4.31 0%
570 Snow Plowing General Trucking $5.79 0%
636 Garden Centres Other Sales $1.40 0%