Ontario government planning to move WSIB headquarters to London

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Monte McNaughton, the minister of labour, training, and skills development, made the announcement on Tuesday at Sleegers Engineered Products Inc. in London, Ont. (Government of Ontario Announcements/YouTube - image credit)
Monte McNaughton, the minister of labour, training, and skills development, made the announcement on Tuesday at Sleegers Engineered Products Inc. in London, Ont. (Government of Ontario Announcements/YouTube - image credit)

The Ford government announced plans Tuesday to move the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) head office from Toronto to London, Ont.

The relocation is part of the government's Community Jobs Initiative that aims to save taxpayer dollars and bring new jobs to cities across Ontario by spreading out provincial agencies.

"Our plan will gradually move thousands of jobs to London and give workers here access to good jobs close to home so that families no longer have to abandon their hometowns to serve our province," said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.

"We don't just want agencies being located in downtown Toronto. It makes economic sense to get them out into different communities, like London," he added.

Currently, the WSIB headquarters, like most of Ontario's 150 government agencies, is located in downtown Toronto. The 600,000 square foot space costs the province $30 million per year and is the only government agency with a geographic restriction for its head office embedded in legislation, the province said.

In order to make the move, the government will have to amend the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act.

"We'll also save money by moving the WSIB off one of the most expensive real estate blocks in Canada, leveraging the success of the WSIB's existing regional office, lower rental costs, and London's historic position as a hub for insurance, legal and financial services," McNaughton said.

'Thousands of jobs'

While many details, including the location and size of the potential new office have yet to be revealed, McNaughton assured that in addition to relocating jobs, the move is expected to create "thousands of jobs" in London.

"This move will help us continue to diversify our economy, continue to provide good, well-paying jobs to the citizens of London and those in the region, and really continue that momentum that London now has as a city growing, thriving and moving forward together," said London's Acting Mayor Josh Morgan.

While a provincial election is looming, McNaughton said the move is going to be done "very soon," but was unable to give an exact timeline.

"We're moving forward immediately to change legislation to ensure that the WSIB headquarters can be located here in London."

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