With fewer workplace accidents, improved rehabilitation and return-to-work outcomes, and a strong funded position, WorkSafeNB has once again reduced the average annual assessment rate. The organization is pleased to announce that the 2024 rate has been set at $1.18 per $100 of assessable payroll, down from $1.31 in 2023. This rate is the lowest average rate in Atlantic Canada and the second lowest in the country, based on currently available information.
Through prudent financial management and responsible decision-making, WorkSafeNB has achieved a funding position of 147.7% which is well above the funding target range of 115%-125%. As a result, a portion of the surplus has been distributed through a $0.21 credit included in the $1.18 average rate.
“I’m pleased to see the rate decrease again this year as it benefits not only employers but all New Brunswickers. Assessment rates reflect the safety and return-to-work outcomes of our province’s workforce and New Brunswick has a positive story to share,” said Tim Petersen, WorkSafeNB’s president and chief executive officer.
The rate reduction announcement comes at the same time as WorkSafeNB continues to pursue benefit improvements for injured workers and their families. Among the board's recommended legislative changes are raising the loss of earnings benefit from 85% to 90% and increasing the maximum annual earnings threshold. These proposed legislative adjustments would align New Brunswick with benefits provided in other jurisdictions across the country.
"The sustainability of the workers’ compensation system is based on striking and maintaining a fair balance between the needs of both workers and employers. Reducing the average assessment rate while improving benefits further realizes this goal – the best possible benefits for injured workers and their families, while maintaining fair and affordable rates for employers,” Petersen said.
“Employers benefit from reduced costs as they continue to run their businesses during a time of high interest and inflation rates, and benefit improvements will help alleviate financial worries of being off work, so workers and their families can better focus on their recovery,” he said. “This rate reduction not only bolsters our economy but also fosters an environment conducive to innovation and growth in our province.”
While the average rate is $1.18, employers’ individual rates will vary based on their industry and individual safety performance. Fewer claims, lower costs, and safer workplaces equal lower rates for most employers. New Brunswick employers will be able to view their individual assessment rates in MyServices by early November.
WorkSafeNB also announced a reduction in the rate charged to fund the Firefighters’ Compensation Act’s disability fund– from $360 to $220 per firefighter. A consultation, expected to launch in early 2024, will explore the possibility of merging the Firefighters' Compensation Act into the Workers' Compensation Act and expanding the list of cancers covered under a presumption clause for firefighters to align with other jurisdictions in Canada.