• Workers Compensation Board - Reasons for Optimism

    September 5, 2019

    Workers Compensation Board - Reasons for Optimism

    Earlier this week I met with the new CEO of the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB), Phil Germain. Phil was an inspired selection by the WCB Board of Directors and will be a change-driving leader at WCB. It was wonderful to sit down with him and learn more about his vision for the future.

    Many of you may remember Phil as the Vice-President of Prevention and Employer Services at WCB, a role he held for the last seven years. In that role Phil was often the recipient of pointed and challenging criticism from industry/employer representatives such as myself. Many industries have struggled with what has often been perceived as a culture at WCB that was biased against employers. While this perception may not have been reality, we certainly heard many stories from employers in the construction industry that would make even the most ardent WCB supporter wonder.

    Phil was always a gracious and engaged listener, who understood the concerns of employers and was always sympathetic and solution-oriented. As someone who did, to some extent, serve as an advocate within WCB for the interests of employers, Phil was the perfect hire for the CEO position when he took office in June.

    When I met with Phil, he spoke to me of his vision for a WCB that leads the country once again, and in particular through the creation of a customer-centric culture. WCB has two customers they serve – workers and employers. From our perspective, and yours, WCB has been underserving the employer side for some time. I get the strong sense that under Phil’s leadership, this concern will be addressed.

    Phil outlined a plan to ensure that the customer-centric culture ensures that the WCB teams are considering the perspectives of their various customers – including employers – as a more common daily business perspective. Implementing a “voice of the customer” initiative at WCB is one of the starting points for this effort. For those unfamiliar with this type of initiative, it is designed to capture customer expectations, likes and dislikes. Typically, these initiatives produce a detailed set of customer wants and needs that can be prioritized and acted on.

    He also discussed plans to ensure that WCB is learning from the best practices at other compensation organizations across North America, and then implementing those practices here in Saskatchewan. If you really want to create an industry-leading organization, this is a great place to start.

    In addition to the changes that Phil is looking to implement at WCB, there is also change coming from the Legislature. Sometime in the next year we expect Minister Don Morgan to initiate a call for nominees for the four new part-time WCB Board positions. Two of these positions will be for employers and two for workers. These new Board positions will be focused on governance oversight at WCB and should be able to be currently involved in industry – meaning their knowledge of employer/worker engagement with WCB will be current and fresh.

    At the SCA we will work to ensure that one of the employer representatives comes from the construction sector, and we will also be encouraging the government to ensure that at least one of the worker representatives comes from a non-unionized environment. Unfortunately, today, open shop workers have no representation on the WCB despite making up as much as 85% of the workforce. We stand together with Merit Contractors in wanting to make sure that this representative imbalance changes.

    Back to Phil for a moment though, as I close this blog post. Phil’s plans are welcome news to employers that have found the culture at WCB to fall short of their expectations. I’m confident in Phil’s leadership, his vision and his passion for improvement at WCB. There are indeed exciting times ahead at WCB and for the first time in a while, I’m optimistic that employers may get the service and support from WCB that they deserve.

    Mark Cooper, MBA, PMP

    President and CEO
    Saskatchewan Construction Association