The aim of this research is to examine current assessment trends, practices, and perceptions in the BC commercial fishing industry, and to identify potential assessment models that could promote improved worker safety.
Under WorkSafeBC’s compensation system, employers in BC are required to pay insurance premiums (“assessments”). Assessments are based on the employer’s payroll and the corresponding rate for their industry classification. Employers can earn discounts or surcharges, referred to as experience rating adjustments, on their base premiums depending on their safety performance, as determined by their claims costs.
Assessment rules for the commercial fishing industry in BC are unique. For assessment purposes, the employer is the first commercial buyer of fish within BC. The first commercial buyer is responsible for paying assessments on behalf of commercial fishers. Assessments are calculated using one of three formulas:
• Salary – where the commercial fisher is paid a salary;
• Gross labour component of the fish sales – where the commercial fisher is paid by established settlement and a labour component is clearly identified; or
• Sixty percent of the gross purchase price of the fish – where the salary or the labour component of a settlement is not clearly identified.
Vessel owners and masters are responsible for safety on the commercial fishing vessels. Since they are not the party responsible for paying assessments, there is no financial incentive, such as the experience rating system, to promote safety and reduce claim costs.
The assessment rules for the commercial fishing industry are found in BC’s Fishing Industry Regulations and WorkSafeBC’s Assessment Manual, Item: AP1-4-1.
Concerns have been identified on aspects of the current system including:
• Inconsistencies with the methods of calculations, and resulting perceived inequities among the assessment payers;
• Unpaid assessments due to unreported sales to unregistered commercial buyers inside and outside BC, plus direct sales to the BC consumer; and
• Absence of a financial incentive to improve safety.
In addressing the above noted concerns, applicants are asked to consider the following research questions:
• What percentage of the fishing industry is being assessed under WorkSafeBC’s compensation system? What is the best assessment model?
• Are there ways in which assessments in BC’s fishing industry could be changed to improve efficiency, fairness, and worker safety? If so, what changes would be necessary?
• What methods of calculating assessments are most frequently used among the fishing CUs?
• If there are different methods of calculating assessments used among the varying CUs, what are the reasons?
• What methods of calculating assessments are perceived to most accurately reflect the labour component for each of the fishing CUs?
• What is the preferred method of calculating assessments? Why?
• What are the challenges, if any, in using the available choices to calculate assessments?
• How would a financial incentive system work in the commercial fishing industry?