Massive WorkSafe NB rate increases announced in the middle of municipal budget season are bad for residents and unsustainable for municipalities, says the Union of the Municipalities of New Brunswick.
For municipalities like Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton, it means sudden cost increases of approx. $1 M – and they’re getting the shock after their budget processes have already begun.
WorkSafe NB has announced a 72% increase in the assessment rate charged to employers for 2019, from $1.70 to $2.92 per 100$ of payroll. This means rates will have increased 163% in just three years, from $1.11 in 2016, making them the highest premiums in Canada.
“The size and rate of these increases is point-blank unsustainable for municipalities,” said UMNB President Wayne Sturgeon. “Municipal budgets are already cut to the bone — and unlike the province, municipalities can’t kick the problem down the road by running deficits. That means residents will feel the pain: in cuts to services, staff, or with increased taxes. This can’t go on. The Province must act now to fix the problem.”
The timing of the announcement makes it worse: municipalities are in the middle of drafting annual budgets without this critical information, meaning some may have to redo their entire budgeting process. WorkSafe NB rates are normally announced in late September, but the announcement was delayed in part because of the uncertain election results.
“Municipalities are already making hard decisions, and they just got harder. We needed this information weeks ago. WorkSafe NB needs to justify delaying this announcement,” says Sturgeon.
UMNB succeeded in saving municipalities money by speaking up to get a decrease in firefighter premiums from $515 to $450. UMNB is currently reviewing the full implications of the WorkSafe NB task force recommendations.