As outlined in an earlier IWH impact case study, Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) introduced a New Service Delivery Model (NSDM) in 2009 to address concerns about an increase in the proportion of disability episodes of long duration over the period 1999 to 2009. The NSDM brought in a new case management focus for the delivery of services to injured workers and their employers, with an emphasis on improving return-to work (RTW) outcomes.
The new case management service incorporated procedures based on the best evidence available. The Institute for Work & Health (IWH) played a pivotal role in supplying that evidence, as noted by Judy Geary, a vice-president at the WSIB when the NSDM was developed and implemented.
In its report, 2012-2016 Strategic Plan: Measuring Results: Q1 2013, which focused on return-to-work and recovery outcomes, the WSIB indicated that the NSDM has had a marked impact on improving RTW outcomes. For example, in 2008, only 65 per cent of all decisions to accept or reject a claim were being made within two weeks. As well, the percentage of workers still on workers’ compensation benefits after 12 months had more than doubled from 4.3 per cent in 1999 to 8.9 per cent in 2009. By early 2013, 90 per cent of all claim eligibility decisions for Schedule 1 injured workers were being made within two weeks, and the percentage of workers still on benefits after 12 months dropped to 3.9 per cent.
Indeed, the WSIB noted that, by the beginning of 2013, 92 per cent of all workers were returning to work within a year of their injury without wage loss, compared to 85 per cent in 2008. A comparison of annual benefit expenditures between 2009 and 2012 documented a reduction in loss-of-earnings benefits of $181 million. The WSIB attributed these outcomes to the NSDM, to a new vocational rehabilitation program (see related case study) and to improved health-care services, including a narcotics strategy (see related case study). The WSIB also noted that the reduction in annual benefit expenditures was in part attributed to a decline in the number of accepted lost-time claims.