Policy Updates

 

The following policy and procedures were recently revised or introduced. All references to the “Act” are to The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013.

Governance Policy (POL 01/2017)

The WCB Board Members are responsible for the stewardship of the WCB, and to oversee the WCB’s adherence to provisions of our Act and Regulations. The Board believes that a strong governance framework is necessary to ensure that it fulfils its responsibilities to workers and employers in the most effective manner. To ensure alignment with the needs of the WCB and governance best practices, the Governance Policy has been updated.

Allowance – Independence (POL & PRO 31/2016)

Section 67 of our Act authorizes WCB to provide independence allowance (IA) to workers who have severe PFI. This policy and procedure establish guidelines for calculating and issuing IA and have been updated as follows:

  • Clarify that customers with psychological or disfigurement PFIs may be eligible for IA if the impairment limits the worker’s independence.
  • An injured worker who has moved into a rental unit may be eligible for IA.

Minimum Compensation (Section 75) – 2017 (PRO 57/2016)

In accordance with Section 75 of the Act, on and after January 1, 1983, minimum compensation is to be not less than 50 percent of the average weekly wage as of June preceding the year in which the review of compensation occurs, or where the worker’s average earnings are less than that amount, the amount of those earnings. This amount is based on Saskatchewan’s average weekly wage as of June. In 2016, Saskatchewan’s average weekly wage was $981.00. Therefore, effective January 1, 2017, the minimum compensation will not be less than $490.50 per week.

Minimum Average Weekly Earnings (Section 70(5)) – 2017 (PRO 58/2016)

This procedure is an annual update. It establishes the minimum average weekly earnings for workers injured on or after January 1, 1980 and who have been receiving wage loss compensation for more than 24 months. It’s based on Saskatchewan’s average weekly wage as of June the year before the benefit review. In June 2016, Saskatchewan’s average weekly wage was $981.00. Effective January 1, 2017, the minimum average weekly earnings will not be less than $654.00.

Default in Assessment Payment – 2017 (PRO 59/2016)

In accordance with Section 8 of our General Regulations, the Bank of Canada’s interest rate effective October 31st of the prior year will be added annually to 6% to arrive at the penalty to be applied when an employer fails to pay premiums required by the Act. The Bank of Canada rate was the same as last year, therefore our annual rate for defaulting employers remains at 6.75%.

Consumer Price Index (CPI) – Annual Increase (PRO 60/2016)

Section 69 of the Act requires that compensation amounts be adjusted annually by the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The basis for any increase is the average of percentage increases in the Regina and Saskatoon All-Items CPI for the 12 months ending on November 30 in each year. For 2017, entitlements will be increased 0.1% due to the CPI increase.

Calculation of Net Compensation Payable (PRO 61/2016)

Section 2(3) of the Act states the WCB must annually establish a schedule setting out a table of earnings and probable compensation from employment for the purposes of Section 2(1)(k). Therefore, when there are any legislated changes to the income tax deductions, either federally or provincially, and these changes become available, the WCB will publish revised tables of earnings and incorporate them into the calculation of net earnings loss. CRA has announced federal and provincial changes to tax credit amounts effective January 1, 2017.

Maximum Wage Rates – 2017 (POL & PRO 20/2016)

In accordance with the 2013 Act, effective January 1, 2017, the maximum wage rates are as follows:

  • If the injury date is before January 1, 2014, the maximum wage rate is $59,127.
  • If the injury date is on or after January 1, 2014, the maximum wage rate is $76,086.

Any adjustments in the calculation of loss of earnings because of an increase in the maximum wage rates will occur during the worker’s annual benefit review on the anniversary date of the original commencement of loss.

Transferring a Firm’s Experience (POL 21/2016)

POL 21/2016, Transferring a Firm’s Experience, has been approved. This policy replaces POL 01/98, New Accounts, Opening and Carry-Forward of Cost Histories after Reorganization in Business and is effective December 1, 2016.

The policy has been updated as follows:

  • Outlines when the WCB may transfer experience from one classification to another or one firm to another (i.e., “trailing”).
  • Ensures that when a business remains essentially the same (e.g., firms are affiliated, change in ownership results from a share purchase), the original firm’s experience will be transferred to the successor firm.

Offset of Canada or Quebec Pension Plan Disability Benefits (POL & PRO 22/2016)

This policy and procedure have been updated to clarify how CPP adjustments should be applied for customers who are receiving the maximum wage rate. For all customers receiving the maximum wage rate, CPP will be adjusted annually by the amount of the CPI percentage increase to CPP implemented in the January prior to the review, regardless of whether the maximum wage rate increases that year.

Maximum Assessable Wage Rate – 2017 (POL 25/2016)

Under Section 137(2) of the Act, the WCB is required to set a maximum assessable wage rate for payroll reporting and assessment purposes. Historically, the maximum assessable wage rate has been set in accordance with the maximum wage rate. Therefore, the 2017 maximum assessable wage rate will be $76,086.

Classification of Industries – 2017 Premium Rates (POL 26/2016)

This policy is a regular annual update effective January 1, 2017. In October 2016, provisional premium rate consultation sessions were held with employers and their associations. Taking into consideration the feedback received from these meetings, the Board Members have approved the 2017 premium rates as listed in POL 26/2016. The 2017 average premium is $1.24 per hundred dollars of payroll.

Experience Rating Program – Discounts or Surcharges (POL 27/2016)

As a result of a review of our experience rating program, the following changes have been made to the policy:

  • Under the Standard Program, claims recorded as time loss for medical appointments only are excluded from the discount or surcharge calculation.
  • The base premium threshold from the standard to the advanced program has been increased to $21,000 (which also increases the participation factor to 41.5%).
  • Employers moving from the standard program to the advanced program will maintain their discount or continue to pay the industry premium rate until they have a new claim in the Advanced Program.

Fair Practices Office (POL 29/2016)

This policy establishes the mandate for our Fair Practice Office. The following changes have been approved by the Board Members, to be effective December 1, 2016:

  • The actions of the FPO will be kept confidential only if requested by the complainant. Unless the person making the inquiry has requested confidentiality, the FPO will enter all information relevant to that inquiry on the appropriate WCB claim or employer file.
  • The FPO will only investigate if an inquiry is brought forth from a complainant.
  • Resolution seeking is now a mandatory practice.
  • The FPO will no longer produce the standalone Fair Practices Office Annual Report; however, information will be included in the Stakeholders Report.

 

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