Workers’ compensation rates in Alberta will be reduced by 7.6 per cent for 2005 due to a decrease in the number of serious injury claims. This reduction follows a 12.5-per-cent increase in Alberta’s rates last year, a result of an increase in the total cost of claims.
“While (claims costs) were still going up, it was appropriate that premiums went up,” said Guy Kerr, president and CEO of Alberta’s Workers’ Compensation Board. “Now that employers and workers are doing a better job of managing that, premium rates are starting to go down. Lost-time claims went down by about 1,000 last year, so that does make a difference.”
Increased revenue also allowed the board to boost its reserve fund to $311 million from $167 million, an 86-per-cent increase in one year.
Kerr confirmed that the reserve fund is nearly fully funded, which may soon allow the board to consider safety dividends for employers.
Several major employers who attended the board’s annual meeting last week applauded the planned rate reduction.
“Overall I’m pleased to see what’s happening,” said Kim Royal, Alberta Motor Transport Association executive director.
A further rate cut can be expected for 2006 if claims costs continue to drop, Kerr said.