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Ontario amends workers comp law


TORONTO—Ontario's workers compensation statute has been amended to increase benefits for injured workers receiving partial benefits and allow workers who are physically able to return to work to continue receiving benefits if they cannot find suitable employment.

The Ontario government amended the province's Workplace Safety and Insurance Act to provide a 2.5% increase in compensation benefits in each of the next three years, starting July 1 for about 155,000 claimants receiving partial benefits. Injured workers who are 100% disabled already receive an annual cost of living increase.

In addition, the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board—the entity that administers workers comp benefits in Ontario—now is required to calculate benefits for injured workers re-entering the workforce based on what they are likely to earn from "suitable and available" employment.

Under the previous law, an injured worker's benefits could be reduced or terminated if the worker was able to return to suitable work even if such work is not available.

Early estimates peg the costs of the changes between $700 million Canadian to $750 million Canadian ($608.8 million to $652.3 million), a major concern for employers because the provincial workers comp system already has a deficit of $6.5 billion Canadian ($5.65 billion).