An Overview of the Arthurs Report, Part V: Occupational Disease and Indexation of Benefits for Partially Disabled Workers
We are now at our final entry reviewing the key chapters of the Arthurs Report. We will not be reviewing chapter 9, which comments on a number of matters that Professor Arthurs felt compelled to mention, but which he says fell outside his mandate.
To conclude then, chapter 7 of the Report considers funding occupational diseases, short and sweet.
To contextualize his ultimate recommendations, Arthurs notes that occupational disease claims constitute a rapidly growing number of total claims, up from 6% in 2000 to 10% in 2010. This trend is likely to continue to grow but we cannot say by how much. This presents a particular cost concern since in occupational disease claims, there is a higher percentage of fatalities, which means disease claims typically cost 10 times as much as other claims, often with $400,000 to $600,000 in survivor benefits. Having all this in mind the WSIB has established a $600 million reserve for future costs, which is considered by the experts to be a reasonable mid-range estimate as to future occupational disease costs.
As noted at the end of this blog entry, Arthurs recommends, firstly, to set up a medical/scientific panel to continue to study issues related to occupational diseases and, secondly, to keep the costs of such claims in the WSIB system.
His next recommendation deals with the issue of who pays for occupational disease claims. Here, happily, he recommends that the WSIB continue its current approach of not subjecting long latency diseases to experience rating. Arthurs also proposes that the cost of the reserve fund noted above should be borne by all Schedule 1 employers. However, when it comes to a decision to treat certain diseases as being associated with a particular work process or industry, Arthurs proposes that up until such a decision is made the claims costs should be split between the industry class/sectoral group and all Schedule 1 employers. Thereafter, the costs of such new claims should be assigned to the industry class/sectoral group alone.
Moving on to chapter 8, Arthurs deals with the subject of inflation protection for partially disabled workers.