Socialized workplace insurance doesn’t work



February 21, 2013

Update: Addendum added – But what does the Bible say?

Bill 119 amended the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act in 2008, making the government-managed WSIB insurance coverage mandatory for certain categories of people in the construction industry including independent operators and sole proprietors. The fact that a self-employed, independent contractor may already have private insurance at a better rate, insuring him or her on and off the job (WSIB only insures on-site accidents) is no substitute: the law says such contractors MUST buy into the government run system.

But why? It seems ridiculous to have people pay into a system at a higher premium for less coverage. The answer becomes clear after a little digging: the WSIB (a government-run workplace insurance program) has an unfunded 14 billion dollar ($14,000,000,000) liability! So the government needs to get more money into it and instead of fixing a broken tool the Liberals and NDP, by voting for Bill 119, decided to force more people to buy into it.


So, what if a young contractor decides to not buy into the WSIB? Imagine he already has private insurance and believes that it more than adequately covers him on and off the job. If the government finds out that this young entrepreneur failed to comply with Bill 119, he would be charged with an offence and, if found guilty, could face a fine up to $25,000 or up to six months imprisonment. If he incorporated his business, his company could be fined up to $100,000.

The bottom line is this: If you, as a construction worker, do not have WSIB you will not be able to work or you will be fined. Period. Although the government suggests that the compulsory nature of this program is to “improve safety”, make no mistake: this is a tax on the construction industry.

You can do something about this. Here are just three suggestions:

1. Whether or not you are a construction worker, you should contact your Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) by visiting them or phoning them. Explain to them that forcing some workers to buy something that they do not want or need is wrong. If the idea of talking to your MPP makes you nervous, use our EasyMail technology to send an email asking your MPP to stand up for hard-working businessmen and businesswomen by repealing Bill 119.

2. You can also sign an online petition here.

3. You can plan to attend a rally at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Thursday, February 28. Rally to Fix the WSIB Details:
When: February 28, 2013 at 10am
Where: Legislative Assembly of Ontario
Queen’s Park Crescent East and Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A1A8 (More details here)


Addendum: But what does the Bible say about this issue? After all, if the only thing that motivates us to action on this issue is our pocketbook, then shame on us!

First of all, the Bible does talk about the role of the State. Paul, in Romans 13, makes it clear that God puts the government in place for our protection in order to punish bad and reward good. Providing insurance coverage does not really fit into that job description. It becomes clear that a mandatory insurance program is a Statist program – it pushes out private insurance competition while costing the citizen more, even when they don’t need it. This is a move by the State to elevate the position and role of the State.

Secondly, God does require us to be good stewards of our income. Sometimes Christians become so used to government deductions on our pay cheques they begin to think that we are only supposed to be stewards of our net income. But that’s not biblical. We are supposed to be stewards of our gross income! The more money that the government takes, the less money that you, the citizen, have to use as you see fit. Even when the government takes the money in order to spend it on things that benefit you (roads, hospitals, military defence, etc.), you have a responsibility to God as a steward of the income He provides you with to watch carefully how those dollars are spent. An inefficient, expensive, uncompetitive insurance scheme is a bad use of the money entrusted to you.

Third, the Bible clearly values freedom. This point connects directly with the point above. The mandatory nature of this WSIB program forcibly removes the choice of how an individual spends those dollars. Even if the amount is small (possibly a few hundred dollars a month), the choice and responsibility of how those dollars are spent are taken away from you. A Libertarian would object on the grounds of “my money, my choice.” A Christian ought to object on the grounds of “God’s money, my responsibility.”

Fourth, the government should serve the people and not the other way around. In 1 Samuel 8, the prophet Samuel lays out the types of things a bad ruler can do and the list is heavy on unjust enrichment of the ruler by the ruler. While the Ontario government is not a single person (like a king or tyrant), this principle still applies today. Paul states in Romans 13:4 that the civil government is to be “God’s servant for your good [emphasis mine]”. So when the government uses its power to take money it does not have a right to take in order to fund a liability it created because of its own mistakes and mismanagement, this violates the principle that government should serve the people. To quote Wayne Grudem, “the more unchecked power a government has, and the less public accountability it has to the people, the more likely a ruler is to forget this principle and to “take” more and more to himself, just as Samuel warned that the king would do.”

Fifth and finally, the people should still obey the government (1 Peter 2) even when it passes bad laws. Bill 119 was passed into law and came into effect on January 1, 2013. Even though it is bad policy and hurts the pocketbook, as Christians we must still obey this law and properly file for certificates, etc. However, this does NOT mean that we cannot lobby to change the law. To the contrary! That is why ARPA exists – to challenge bad laws, to advocate for good laws, using Biblical principles as our guide.

So, let’s work against this Statist law in order to assist the government in serving the people and in order to assist our neighbours to flourish in their work.

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