The WCB / WSIB and How It Started

The compensation system which began in Ontario back in 1915, has its origin from Germany, Great Britain and the United States whereby its history dates back to the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  Between 1908 and 1915, several states in the United States enacted compensation legislation and authority was given as state jurisdiction.  The US developed a mixed of WCB, mandatory insurance, self-insurance and a combination of each.  The state of Washington enacted an exclusive mandatory system based on collective liability. 


               Born: March 31, 184            Died: August 21, 1923

Sir William Ralph Meredith, QC was Leader of the Ontario Conservatives from 1878 – 1894.

Chancellor of the University of Toronto from 1900 – until his death, and also the Chief Justice of Ontario from   1913 – until his death. 


Sir William Ralph Meredith was to head the first Royal Commission to study the Worker’s Compensation system throughout the world and make his recommendations in Parliament.  His work took nearly 4 years to complete and was presented October 31st, 1913.

His recommendations although very lengthy report could be summarized into 5 key principals, 

1) A no-fault compensation system which meant that workers were paid benefits regardless of how the injury occurred while at work.  In exchange for this, the workers gave up their rights to sue the employer.   It was to be an non-adversarial system, meaning no argument over the responsibility or liability for the workers’ injuries.

2) Security of benefits which means a fund is establish to guarantee funds exist to pay benefits.  Workers were to receive benefits as long as the injury lasts. 

3) The system would be funded by collective liability.  This would mean that every employers shared the liability of the workers injuries and that all employers would be contributing to this fund.  Financial liability becomes their collective responsibility.

4) Independent administration, meaning the organization who administer the workers compensation are separate from the government.

5) Exclusive jurisdiction, which meant only workers compensation organizations could provide workers compensation benefits.  All compensation claims were to be directed solely to the compensation board.  The board would be the decision maker and final authority for all claims.

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