WCB drops rates for many employers
Employers benefit from own safety practices

by Nancy Gardiner
Northern News Services

NNSL (Aug 25/97) - The NWT Workers' Compensation Board is dropping some of its employer assessment rates for 1998.

The rates are dropping an average of 12 per cent for payroll in 1998. Assessment rates are paid by employers for benefits provided by the WCB.

"The rates have been cut due to the fiscal framework of the WCB and investment policy," said John Todd, the minister responsible for the board.

"Time-loss claims have continued to improve, there's been aggressive safety in the workplace and the investment policy is doing very well," he said in an interview with xxxNews/North. There's been a more aggressive position taken on the investment policy.

This is the third year the rates have been reduced for the construction industry.

Dick Bushey of the NWT Construction Association says there's potential for some of these cost breaks to benefit consumers. "Seventy-five per cent of the cost of building a house is labor," he says.

Both the mining and construction industries received significant rate reductions for 1998.

Employers in building construction and trades will see a drop of 22 per cent from $6.75 to $5.25 for every $100 of assessed payroll. In mining, the rate falls from $5.75 last year to $4.75, according to the WCB.

Roofing, which is the highest rate in Alberta, cost employers there $9.97 per $100 of gross pay in 1997, says Janis McHargue, of customer service for Alberta's WCB. In the NWT, the figure is considerably lower, at $5.25 for 1998. Alberta's new rates should be published in another month, says McHargue.

The board is dropping its average assessment rates for employers in 14 of 30 categories.

An operating reserve is maintained to protect assessment rates from large variations. That reserve had $8.5 million transferred into it in 1996, bringing its current total to $22.4 million.

The NWT rate is the fourth lowest in Canada, according to 1997 comparisons, contained in a WCB press release.