WCB Surplus Refunds to Employers at Risk of Being Eliminated

Labour Ministry wants to eliminate policy that ensures automatic rebates of excess WCB funding 

EDMONTON – The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) today called on the Alberta Government to back off its stealth-like scheme to eliminate the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) long-standing policy of issuing automatic refunds to employers when the system is excessively overfunded.

“By terminating the automatic refund policy, it is beginning to look like the government’s goal is to turn the system on its head, and end one of the most important ways the Board remains financially accountability to business owners who, let’s not forget, pay for 100 per cent of the system’s costs,” said Amber Ruddy, Alberta Director for CFIB.

For many years, the Board’s policy has been to refund back to employers the excess monies over and above what is needed to properly fund the workers’ compensation system, guard against investment and inflation volatility, and protect worker benefits in the long term. The current policy is to automatically issue a refund if the funded position (assets versus liabilities) exceeds the targeted funded range of 114 per cent to 128 per cent.

The Board recently announced there will be no WCB rebate in 2018 since the funded position has dipped to 127.3% due to a higher level of claims during the recession and new expensive benefits being added to the system.

Following a government-ordered review of WCB in 2017, the Minister of Labour, Christina Gray, rightfully rejected their recommendation to eliminate the automatic refund policy.  But a recent letter from the Minister to the Board makes it clear she believes the surplus monies belong to the WCB, not employers, and has directed the Board to eliminate the policy.

“The Minister is clearly conducting a clandestine campaign to unnecessarily withhold employers money beyond what is needed to properly fund the system, and doing so in a way that minimizes political fallout. Business owners are starting to wake up and challenge the government’s attempt to manipulate policy and hoard employers’ money,” concludes Ruddy.

CFIB is Canada’s largest association of small- and medium-sized businesses with 110,000 members across every sector and region, including 10,000 in Alberta