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Ontario WSIB COVID-19 Financial Relief Package

The Ontario WSIB on March 26, 2020, communicated to stakeholders current COVID-19 financial and claims initiatives to ease the burden of the current pandemic.

For more information you can access the WSIB website or telephone 1-800-387-0750 (Monday to Friday, 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM).

A. Financial Relief Package

WSIB announced a financial relief package – worth up to $1.9 billion – to support businesses while protecting coverage for workers. All businesses covered by the workplace safety and insurance system are automatically eligible to defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. This includes businesses registered under Schedule 1 of the Act who report and remit premiums to the WSIB monthly, quarterly or annually. The following payments are eligible for deferral.

Monthly: March 31, April 30, May 31, June 30, July 31, August 31 Quarterly: April 30, July 31 Annual: April 30

Because all businesses covered by the WSIB are automatically eligible for the financial package NO action is required from a business to receive the financial relief. It is not necessary to contact the WSIB and confirm your intention to participate in the relief package.

Businesses have the a number of options. First, a business may decide to fully participate in the relief package. Second, a business may decide to report financial information to the WSIB as is their usual practice but defer payment until later. Third, a business may wish to continue to report and pay premiums as is their usual practice with no deferred payments.

For businesses registered under Schedule 2 of the Act all payment obligations (weekly and monthly) will be deferred until August 31, 2020.

No interest will accrue on outstanding premium payments and no penalties will be charged during the six-month deferral period.

B. Employer Account Information

WSIB is assessing which employer account communications will continue through the duration of the financial relief package. New information to follow.

C. Worker Benefit Entitlement/Claims

Benefit payments and the management of new claims will continue for workers with work-related injuries/illness.

WSIB continues to pay all wage-loss benefits and is ensuring that all LOE benefits are up to date. For a worker receiving WSIB benefits and where the workplace has closed or where there is a work disruption, the WSIB is continuing to pay all wage-loss benefits which the worker received at the time of the change in the employer’s business.

For a worker who was not receiving wage loss benefits (on modified work at no wage loss) at the time of the change in the employer’s business WSIB has indicated that no new benefit entitlement would be in order. If the worker had been receiving other benefits (health care, etc.) those will continue.

Individuals who have been scheduled for a claim-related appointment/meeting at the WSIB should note that the session will not be conducted in person. Cancellation of an appointment or meeting will not affect entitlement to benefits or services.

In the case of a pre-scheduled oral appeal hearing, the parties will be contacted by telephone by an Appeals Coordinator or ARO to arrange an alternative approach including rescheduling an oral hearing or replacement by a written hearing.

In the case of pre-scheduled health care, where the worker is diagnosed with COVID-19 or is self-isolating, WSIB expects the worker to cancel the appointment and work with the health care provider to reschedule or initiate an alternative approach in accordance with public health guidelines and the direction of the health care provider.

COVID-19 new claims received by the WSIB will be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis. If a worker believes he/she contacted COVID-19 while at work, the WSIB has indicated that claim “may” be filed if the worker is otherwise eligible for WSIB coverage.

For a COVID-19 claim to be allowed by the WSIB, evidence must show the worker’s risk of contracting the disease through their employment is greater than the risk to which the public at large is exposed and that work significantly contributed to the worker’s illness. WSIB will consider the worker’s employment activities, symptoms and whether they have a COVID-19 medical diagnosis.

WSIB has stated it does not provide coverage for workers who are symptom-free even when guarantined, self-isolating or sent home on a precautionary basis. If a worker who was symptom-free later develop symptoms/illness while on quarantine, then he/she may be eligible for WSIB coverage.

D. Reducing the Spread of Infection

WSIB is recommending that public health direction/guidelines should be followed.

Practice physical distancing as much as possible.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

Cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand and wash immediately afterwards.

Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.

Clean high-touch surfaces frequently.

For additional information on CODIV-19 and WSIB issues, please access the WSIB website or telephone the Board at 1-800-387-0750.

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