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Ontario comp premium outlook stable for 2008


TORONTO--Average employer premiums for workers compensation insurance in Ontario will remain steady in 2008, according to a preliminary decision by Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

The average premium rate for 2008 will be $2.26 Canadian per every $100 Canadian of insurable earnings, unchanged from this year, due to expectations that health and safety and return-to-work outcomes will continue to improve, WSIB Chair Steve Mahoney said in a statement issued Friday.

The province has experienced a decline in lost-time injuries, but WSIB officials remain concerned about a continuing increase in average claim costs, Mr. Mahoney said. The WSIB is the entity that administers workers comp benefits in Ontario.

Employers in certain categories will experience double-digit premium hikes due to increasing injury frequency or rising claim costs within their particular segments. Chemical industry companies, for example, will see their average premiums rise 10.8% to $1.75 Canadian per $100 Canadian of insurable earnings.

Ontario's workers compensation system currently has a deficit of $6.5 billion Canadian ($6.13 billion). The WSIB believes its goal of eliminating the deficit by 2014 is still achievable if the province makes further progress in its health and safety and return-to-work initiatives, Mr. Mahoney said.

The WSIB is releasing preliminary rates now to assist employers with their financial forecasting and budgeting for next year. Approval of the final premium rates is scheduled for a WSIB board of directors meeting in late July.

Canadian workers comp coverage is provided largely by provincial and territorial workers comp boards and financed by employer-paid premiums. Employers have no control over the rates set by the boards; rates for each company in a given sector reflect the loss experience of that sector, though companies that have low incident levels within a sector are eligible for individual rebates.