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New Brunswick gets top mark for workers' compensation system

By COS staff
| www.cos-mag.com

New Brunswick boasts the nation’s top workers’ compensation system, according to the second edition of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ (CFIB)

Small Business Workers’ Compensation Index

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The report ranked workers’ compensation systems through the lens of a small- and medium-sized business, examining 35 indicators in seven major areas:

•cost of premiums

•claims management

•experience rating

•classification and assessment

•coverage

•long-term financial sustainability

•customer service.

Scores were assessed on a scale of zero to 10.

New Brunswick scored an overall seven out of 10 thanks to consistently strong scores across the board, edging out Prince Edward Island (6.69) for the top spot.

“Low premium rates, discouraging frivolous claims and having an employer advocate really helped New Brunswick take top spot,” said Erin McGrath-Gaudet, CFIB director of intergovernmental policy.

Gerard Adams, president and CEO of WorkSafeNB, said the agency is pleased to be recognized for its hard work and commitment, but notes the work is far from over.

“While this index shows that, according to one of our major stakeholders, we’re doing great work and we’re on the right track, we also know we can do better. We focus, every day, on improving," he said.

The agency recently announced it hired seven more health and safety officers to provide additional support to employers and workers. New Brunswick’s Department of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, along with WorkSafeNB, are also currently reviewing workers’ compensation legislation, which hasn't bee reviewed in more than 20 years.

Denis Robichaud, CFIB’s director of provincial affairs for New Brunswick, said the analysis found that New Brunswick’s system has some of the lowest industry-specific premium rates across sectors.

"And our survey shows that a majority of small business owners feel that WorkSafeNB’s staff is accessible, knowledgeable and professional," he said.

Alberta (6.35), Nova Scotia (5.86) and British Columbia (5.70) rounded out the top five.

There was some movement in the rankings, though most systems across the country remained roughly in the same shape as they were for the previous report published in 2011. Alberta made the greatest improvement, moving from fifth to third, while British Columbia saw the biggest drop, falling from third to fifth.

“We’ve seen some positive strides across the country since our last report, but we’re still seeing significant struggles when it comes to customer service, as nine provinces received scores under six in that category," said McGrath-Gaudet.

Newfoundland and Labrador (5.61), Saskatchewan (5.17), Manitoba (5.15), Quebec (4.30) and Ontario (3.59) round out the bottom half of the list. The workers’ compensation boards in both Quebec and Ontario have been working co-operatively with CFIB in recent years, and have begun to take steps to address small business concerns.  

“Nearly two-thirds of business owners identify workers’ compensation, occupational health and safety as their most burdensome provincial regulations,” said McGrath-Gaudet. “CFIB recommends that boards across the country focus on keeping red tape and costs reasonable for employers, and commit to improve the customer service experiences they provide to Canada’s small businesses."

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