Ontario’s WSIB expands options during COVID-19 pandemic: Commentary from Tom Teahen
By Tom Teahen/WSIB
The COVID-19 pandemic is changing everyday life for people around the world, including how we work and do business.
At the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), we know people have more than enough to deal with — trying to keep businesses open, keep working, care for kids or loved ones — without having to worry about their premiums or other reporting requirements.
That’s why we are doing everything we can to help, so people can focus on their job or business or family, and always on their health and safety.
What kind of help can we give? It starts with options to make doing business with us easier during this time of unprecedented challenge. That includes using our new online services as well as financial relief for businesses.
Financial relief package
It is critically important for us to help businesses reduce the financial burden associated with the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation.
Working with the Ontario government, we have developed a $1.9-billion financial relief package that allows any business to defer premium reporting and payments until Aug. 31, 2020. All businesses are eligible for this deferral. We are also waiving interest and penalties during this time.
Also, costs associated with COVID-19 related claims will not be allocated at an employer or class level. Instead, they will be allocated on a Schedule-wide basis and there will be no change in rates for 2020.
Support of people with claims
While our WSIB offices are closed, we are still here to help.
Our staff are actively managing claims, processing new claims and answering phone calls. People can also upload claim-related documents such as forms, letters, reports and receipts directly to us through our website.
The WSIB is also ensuring wage-loss benefits are continuing to be paid and all loss-of-earnings benefits are up to date.
People whose workplace shuts down temporarily will also keep getting their benefits.
Managing COVID-19 related claims
We also have a team working through COVID-19 related claims.
While the nature of some people’s work may put them at greater risk of contracting the virus, any claims we receive will be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration all the facts and circumstances.
People who contracted COVID-19 while at work — meaning they have a diagnosis or symptoms of COVID-19 — can file a claim to determine if they are eligible for WSIB coverage.
People who believe they were exposed to COVID-19 while at work but are not ill at this time — meaning they have no diagnosis or symptoms of COVID-19 — should not file a claim.
They can instead file an exposure incident form through our Program for Exposure Incident Reporting (PEIR) or Construction Exposure Incident Reporting (CEIR) program as relevant.
Having an exposure incident report on file can help us work through any eventual claim much faster.
The WSIB website has more information and the latest updates about how we can help during this difficult time.
While we are in unprecedented times, we will get through this together.
Tom Teahen is president and CEO of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in Toronto.
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