LONDON – The Ontario government is working with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in planning the relocation of its Toronto-based head office to London. The move is part of the government’s Community Jobs Initiative, a new strategy to save taxpayer dollars while bringing good jobs and economic development to more communities by ensuring provincial agencies are spread out across Ontario.
“Our government has heard loud and clear from businesses and workers alike that they expect more from the WSIB, which is why we are driving generational change at the organization,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training, and Skills Development. “In addition to raising compensation for injured workers, returning $1.5 billion to safe employers, and launching the first-ever review of the province’s occupational illness system, today’s announcement is another step in benefitting the people of Ontario for generations to come.”
Most of Ontario’s over 150 government agencies are located in downtown Toronto. The Community Jobs Initiative will ensure provincial agencies are not concentrated in Toronto’s downtown core, with other communities seeing greater local economic growth thanks to the knock-on effect of growing the number of jobs in their cities.
Currently, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act requires the WSIB head office to be located in Toronto with some of the more expensive real estate costs in the country. The WSIB head office has over 600,000 square feet at an annual cost of over $30 million and is the only government agency with a geographic restriction for its head office embedded in legislation. To enact this move, the government intends to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.
“With 76% of the office space occupied by our provincial agencies located in downtown Toronto, relocating them from some of the most expensive real estate in the world will not only save millions of taxpayers’ dollars but also grow our regional economies,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. “We’re getting this done by leveraging the government’s existing real estate holdings across Ontario and taking advantage of reduced rental costs in smaller communities.”
In 2019, the Ontario government commissioned an independent review of the Board’s operations. The review’s report recommended the WSIB evaluate its properties to explore opportunities to decentralize and save money to better serve clients.