Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, I wish to provide an update on some of the service improvements, including the financial relief measures the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the pandemic hit, the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission responded quickly to adapt its operations. In line with public health guidelines, all employees in Yellowknife, Inuvik, and Iqaluit were swiftly equipped with the right technology, moved to work from home, and safely transitioned back to offices once appropriate safety measures were put in place. Since March 2020, the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission has successfully maintained services to 4,000 employers and almost 40,000 workers in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut without significant interruption, a commendable achievement.
Mr. Speaker, one of the ways the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission continues to ensure business continuity and to enhance front-line services for employers and injured workers is by offering virtual and online alternatives. Prior to the pandemic, work was already well underway to expand online options, such as Mine Supervisor Certification and e-business services offered through WSCC Connect. However, it was undeniable that the practical challenges posed by COVID-19 had accelerated the adaptation of some digital platforms and business transformation through sheer necessity.
The Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission has taken a highly flexible and adaptive approach. For example, claims services are working with service providers in healthcare to provide some of the practical barriers to provide virtual-based care plan options for injured workers. In suitable cases, services officers have arranged for medical appointments, follow-up, counselling, physiotherapy home exercise plans and assessments, and Vocational Rehabilitation assessments and follow-up. These improvements are in the early days and, though modest, are meaningful and will ultimately offer a more responsive and supportive service for injured workers and their family, a quicker resolution for employees, and a reduction in case costs.
Mr. Speaker, Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission educational outreach and inspections are an important part of ensuring the health and safety of the workplace across the Northwest Territories. In 2020, the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission adapted these in-person activities and provided assistance to over 2,760 employers through alternative means such as phone and online. Educational tools and guidance were developed and rolled out for industry use and the webinars and Zoom meetings that replaced annual events with partner organizations and professional associations were well attended.
Inspections are an essential mechanism for accountability, to ensure that employers are meeting their legal obligations under the Safety Act and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and the Mine Health and Safety Act. Engagement and outreach gives employers access to guidance and best practices tools so that we can create and maintain strong safety plans and also ensure the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission remains responsive to the challenges they face.
Mr. Speaker, the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission is also making continual improvements to the more established e-business services on WSCC Connect. A new service for employers to report workplace safety incidents or injuries was recently launched on the platform. Employer's Report of Incident joins existing services, such as payroll reporting, online payments, assessment rate information, clearance requests, and reports of unsafe work. For example, employers who reduced their workplace during the pandemic had the opportunity to submit a revised payroll estimation online and to make their payments without penalty at a later date.
At this challenging time for many businesses, the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission announced last November that the average rate for employer's assessment will be maintained at the 2020 rate levels. Employers have already received notification of their industry assessment rate. That the average rate is holding steady at $2.40 per $100 of assessed payroll is positive news at a time of economic uncertainty for so many.
The Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission remains committed to making northern workplaces the safest in the country and to delivering care to injured workers, to work collaboratively with the Office of the Chief Public Health Officer to reduce the risk of exposure and transmission of COVID-19 in workplaces, and to provide practical support to employers and local businesses to operate safely. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.