This question was recently raised by the Ontario Legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts. This Committee on Public Accounts, comprised of eight members of the legislature, has a mandate to review the provincial Auditor General’s annual report on public expenditures. A chapter in the Auditor General’s 2009 Annual Report examined the status of the current unfunded liability with the accounts of the Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). Long-duration compensation claims have potential implications for the WSIB’s requirements for future compensation obligations.
For several years, members of the scientific staff of the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) have provided technical assistance to a study team within the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board that has been examining potential explanations for the increase in long-duration claims. This trend appeared to begin following legislative changes in 1998.
At a standing committee session in February 2010, WSIB’s Chief Operations Officer, John Slinger, made reference to this study when a committee member asked about the issue of claims duration at the WSIB.
When we started to see the long-term claims go to the legislative lock-in point in higher numbers than had been the case in the previous legislation, we brought in the IWH to assist us in a study of those long-term cases to understand what the drivers were, said Slinger to the committee.
The WSIB study team has focused on three factors that appear to be related to the increase in long-duration compensation claims:
- changes in the case management of claims and labour market re-entry programs;
- the increase in prescriptions of narcotic medicines; and
- aspects of the incentive system in place for employers in cases of a recurring work injury after a return to work.
The full text of the committee session is available through the Official Report of Debates (Hansard) from February 24, 2010 at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario’s website at.