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Small businesses could get $3 billion boost if overfunded WCBs provided rebates: CFIB

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July 20, 2023
By Talent Canada

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If five overfunded workers’ compensation boards (WCB) across Canada rebated their excess funds, it would give a $3 billion boost to small businesses, according to the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB)’s latest research snapshot entitled Funding Fairness: State of Workers’ Compensation Funding.

“Workers’ compensation boards are holding onto billions in extra money, while over half of small businesses (60%) are still carrying their pandemic-related debt, at an average of $126,000. Getting excess WCB money back to small businesses would be game-changing,” said Marvin Cruz, CFIB director of research. “Businesses could reinvest the funds or use them to keep up with inflation, maintain jobs or pay down their pandemic-related debt.”

According to the most recent data, boards in British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Yukon were overfunded, meaning boards exceeded their desired funding target.

B.C. ‘massively overfunded’

British Columbia’s board continues to be “massively overfunded at 146% when its own funding target is 130%,” CFIB said in a press release.


Rebating the excess funds would amount to $2.5 billion for BC businesses, it said. Additionally, Manitoba has registered a funding ratio of 145% and has announced it will not be sending rebates to employers even though they have surpassed their own target of 130%. For a small business with five employees, the rebates could be in the thousands of dollars, ranging from $505 in the Yukon to $4,835 in British Columbia.

CFIB calls on governments to follow Ontario’s lead and legislate surplus rebates

So far Ontario is the only province to legislate a mandatory rebate distribution when the funding is at least 125%, it said. CFIB continues to encourage other provinces to follow Ontario’s suit and deliver meaningful financial relief to small business owners.

To ensure fairness for small businesses, CFIB is calling on all boards to:

  • Rebate surplus funds to employers or lower employer premiums, if funding ratio exceeds its target funding, with a stronger preference for a rebate to eligible employers
  • Legislate surplus distribution policies
  • Implement mandatory distribution policies where none exist

“Obviously, workers’ compensation systems need to be adequately resourced to continue the important work of supporting workers and making workplaces safer. But why should boards have more employer money than they need, while small businesses—the backbone of the Canadian economy—are still struggling?” said Duncan Robertson, CFIB policy analyst and co-author of the snapshot. “The source of funding for the boards comes directly from employer-paid premiums. So, it’s only fair for the boards to give back the excess money.”

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