Governance – Balancing Decisions Policy 41-012 | Effective Date: April 26, 2018

Purpose 

The purpose of this policy is to:

  • Communicate the disciplined approach by which the Board of Directors balances decisions within available resources;
  • Systematically plan for and prioritize benefit-related decisions; and
  • Maintain system sustainability through a decision-making process governed by the founding principles of the workers’ compensation system, WorkSafeNB values, strategic direction, and priorities.

Scope 

This policy applies to the Board of Directors’ decision-making process. 

Statements 

1.0 General 

The Board of Directors is responsible for overseeing the administration of its governing legislation and establishing the strategic direction and priorities of WorkSafeNB. At the governing level of the organization, the Board of Directors makes policy decisions to leverage its strategies, advance its priorities, and manage risks. Policies also interpret discretionary sections of legislation and communicate the Board’s expectations to WorkSafeNB staff and stakeholders.  

For more information, see Policy 41-004 Governance – Policy Development

The Sustainability Goal communicates the Board’s commitment to ensuring policy decisions related to benefits achieve a balance between the entire package of benefits available to injured workers, survivors, and dependants and the resources available to fund those benefits. 

When funding requirements are determined each year, assessment rates take into account the benefits, programs, and services that are currently provided by legislation and Board policy. When changes to that benefit package are proposed, it is necessary to determine how the changes will be resourced. Resources may be moved from another benefit or increases to assessment rates may be considered. 

In weighing benefit-related issues, the Board of Directors considers the following principles to guide its decisions:

  • Benefit decisions align with the Meredith Principles (section 2.0);
  • Intergenerational equity (section 3.0);
  • Fully funded liability (section 4.0);
  • Benefit decisions consider the package of benefits available (section 5.0);
  • Benefits focus on workers with the greatest need (section 6.0);
  • Stakeholder engagement (section 7.0); and
  • Monitoring and evaluation (section 8.0). 

2.0 Benefit Decisions Align with the Meredith Principles 

WorkSafeNB administers a health, safety and compensation system that is funded by employers. Its roots are founded in the Meredith Principles, which the Board of Directors preserves with the decisions that it makes. The Security of Payment principle summarizes the balance that is considered between providing benefits and the resources needed to fund benefit decisions.  

Meredith Principles:

  • No-Fault Compensation – Workers are eligible to receive benefits for work-related injuries or occupational diseases, regardless of fault, while workers and employers waive the right to sue.
  • Collective Liability – All registered employers share responsibility for fully funding the cost of workers’ compensation insurance and for the system’s financial liability.
  • Security of Payment – The system is operated to ensure its long-term stability, availability, financial security, and cost-effectiveness. Compensation benefits should be fair and reduce the financial burden of workplace injuries. Assessment premiums should be fair, competitive, and account for the full cost of the system including claims, reserves, and administration.
  • Exclusive Jurisdiction – WorkSafeNB has final decision-making authority. It is not bound by legal precedent and must judge each case on its individual merits.
  • Board Independence – The governing board is stakeholder-driven, autonomous, non-political, and financially independent of government or any special interest group.

The workers’ compensation system provides workers with benefits when they are injured in a workplace accident arising out of and in the course of employment. These injured workers are entitled to benefits regardless of fault, while employers are responsible for paying the costs. Employers are not responsible for paying the cost of injuries or illnesses that are personal in nature, i.e., those not caused by work as determined by WorkSafeNB. Medicare and/or other social benefits may be available through legislated programs, such as CPP Disability and Employment Insurance sick benefits, to pay for non-work-related accidents or illnesses. 

3.0 Intergenerational Equity 

WorkSafeNB is committed to preserving the long-term sustainability of the workers’ compensation system and ensuring that the principles of intergenerational equity and collective liability among employers are reflected in its systems, services, and decisions. The assessments system is designed to ensure that the costs of accidents are paid by the generation of employers in business at the time the accident occurred. To fund the system, assessments are collected that reflect current and future costs of today’s accidents.  

In practice, this means that the Board of Directors must consider whether or not the decision being made will:

  • Affect benefits already received by workers; and/or
  • Impact future assessment rates paid by employers.

4.0 Fully Funded Liability 

The Board of Directors protects the long-term sustainability of the system by ensuring that when decisions are made, the Board also considers the resources available to fund them. Assessment rates are set annually to pay for the current and future cost of accidents based on the legislation and policies currently in place. 

When benefit decisions are made, the Board of Directors must also make a corresponding decision about how to resource that decision. To balance the system, the Board needs to consider if other benefits provided should be adjusted to pay for the new decision, or if it is appropriate to increase assessment rates. 

5.0 Benefit Decisions Consider the Package of Benefits Available 

The Board of Directors makes decisions related to benefits that are prescribed by legislation or discretionary (allowing for interpretation through policy). All decisions made regarding entitlement to benefits, or changes in the overall benefit package, whether to legislation or through policy, should consider the most appropriate mix of benefits given:

  • The needs of workers today;
  • The overall balance of the system; and
  • WorkSafeNB’s goals and priorities. 

5.1 Prescribed and Discretionary Benefits 

Legislation provides WorkSafeNB with the authority to administer benefits such as medical aid, loss of earnings, and rehabilitation, when an accident results in personal injury arising out of and in the course of employment. 

In some cases, legislation is prescriptive, which means WorkSafeNB provides the benefit as stated in legislation. Often these benefits are fundamental entitlements such as loss of earnings benefits.

However, many benefits provided by WorkSafeNB are based on discretionary sections of legislation. This means that legislation broadly defines what may be provided and it is the Board’s responsibility to define the extent to which those benefits achieve the intent of legislation and the strategic goals of WorkSafeNB. The Board must also determine that resources are available to fund discretionary policy decisions. 

5.2 Limits 

WorkSafeNB is committed to providing clients with the services to which they are entitled. However, in fairly delivering services, clients and stakeholders must also recognize that the legislation imposes limits to the system – WorkSafeNB is not permitted to provide benefits to clients who are not eligible to receive them. Similarly, employers should not be expected to incur costs for benefits to which an injured worker is not entitled. 

WorkSafeNB’s priorities are identified, analyzed, resourced, and communicated to stakeholders. Decisions by the Board of Directors or Appeals Tribunal that provide benefits outside the limits defined by legislation and policy may have significant consequences to the sustainability of the system. 

5.3 Making Benefit Decisions 

The Board adheres to a disciplined policy and legislative decision-making process to balance benefits and fund the system. Should the Board introduce new priorities, outside the discipline of its planning process, it must then also consider which of the planned priorities it will defer until a time in the future when resources are available. 

All benefit-related policy decisions take into account WorkSafeNB’s:

  • Legislated mandate;
  • Strategic goals and priorities established by the Board;
  • Risks;
  • Available resources; and
  • Intended outcomes. 

The Board of Directors maintains discipline in its policy and legislative decision-making process by:

  • Evaluating recommendations from management;
  • Analyzing literature, best practices, and jurisdictional information;
  • Analyzing evidence and financial information related to the policy decision;
  • Evaluating alternatives and options, where appropriate;
  • Understanding the issues and the impacts on WorkSafeNB and its stakeholders;
  • Considering the views of stakeholders, while deciding in the best interest of WorkSafeNB;
  • Requesting additional information from management when needed to gain a full understanding of the issue; and
  • Discussing the policy decision as it relates to the intent of legislation and its impact on furthering WorkSafeNB’s strategic goals.

The Board of Directors also makes benefit package decisions by conducting an analysis of all benefits in relation to the funding available and determines whether benefits and assessment rates are at an appropriate level.  

If WorkSafeNB is fully funded and the Board decides that benefits should be improved, then the Board also needs to make a corresponding decision about how to fund the improvement. 

If WorkSafeNB is fully funded and the Board decides that assessment rates are too high, then the Board must also make a corresponding decision about what resources to use to fund a reduction in the assessment rate. 

If WorkSafeNB is not fully funded, then the Board must take the necessary steps to determine what resources are needed to reach full funding within five years. 

6.0 Benefits Focus on Workers with the Greatest Need 

The Board of Directors has dedicated resources to benefits that help the most seriously injured workers and those who are living with the long-term effects of workplace injuries.  

In making benefit-related decisions, the Board of Directors takes into consideration where the greatest needs exist and focuses benefit changes accordingly. Options, alternatives, and trade-offs are considered to maintain balance in the system. 

7.0 Stakeholder Engagement 

Stakeholder engagement allows the Board of Directors and its stakeholders to share information related to WorkSafeNB’s strategy, strategic priorities, results, and issues of importance to WorkSafeNB and the stakeholder community. In its stewardship of WorkSafeNB, the Board builds relationships with stakeholder groups and integrates their views and opinions into its decision-making process. 

During its strategic planning and risk assessment process, the Board of Directors prioritizes opportunities to consult with stakeholders on specific legislative and policy issues. 

The Board of Directors demonstrates transparency by:

  • Reporting outcomes to stakeholders regularly;
  • Communicating the rationale for benefit and rate decisions;
  • Providing an opportunity for stakeholders to provide feedback on policies being reviewed; and
  • Providing opportunities for stakeholders to provide feedback on benefit and rate decisions. 

For more information, see Policy 41-003 Governance – Stakeholder Engagement. 

8.0 Monitoring and Evaluation 

In fulfilling its oversight responsibility, the Board of Directors regularly evaluates decisions to ensure the health, safety, and compensation system is continuing to achieve its legislated mandate and the strategic direction established by the Board. 

WorkSafeNB focuses its limited resources on the areas it believes will have the greatest impact on advancing its strategic goals. The Board of Directors aims to be responsive to stakeholders and allocates resources prudently by:

  • Planning for the review of the benefit package;
  • Re-evaluating the package periodically to determine whether WorkSafeNB provides the best benefits package in comparison to other jurisdictions;
  • Identifying when improvements or changes may be required to either legislated or discretionary benefits provided through Board policy; and
  • Adhering to a disciplined process for allocating resources to priorities. 

9.0 Implement the Policy 

As the Board of Directors discusses and debates policy and legislative issues, it should ensure that each of the principles in this policy have been considered before a decision is finalized.

Intergenerational equity – principle where costs of accidents are borne by the generation of employers in business at the time the accident occurred, thus securing existing benefit entitlements. 

Stakeholder – a person, group, or organization that has direct or indirect interest in an organization because it can affect or be affected by the organization’s actions, objectives, and policies. Primary WorkSafeNB stakeholders include workers, employers, service providers, WorkSafeNB employees, and the Government of New Brunswick.

Stakeholder engagement – an organization’s efforts to understand the concerns of stakeholders and involve them in the activities and decision-making processes of the organization so that mutual interests are aligned, risks reduced, and the organization’s performance advanced. 

WorkSafeNB – means the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission or "the Commission" as defined by the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission and Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal Act.

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