Canadian Contractor

Ontario WSIB registration deadline just six weeks away. They want your money.

The WSIB has started an advertising campaign to warn the public not to hire you without checking your WSIB credentials.

November 27, 2013
By Alec Caldwell
Alec Caldwell

This week on the radio station I heard an Ontario WSIB (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board) commercial telling homeowners and contractors that, come January 1, 2014, anyone found working without a WSIB a clearance certificate in construction will face fines of up to $100,000. Those who hire contractors without confirming they have a valid clearance number also face serious fines and penalties, up to $100,000.

It seems the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act 1997 (WSIA) doesn’t just determine who needs to have coverage with the WSIB, it also determines the consequences for people who don’t comply with the law. And the agency, with an unfunded liability over $15-billion, is squeezing all of us.

When Bill 119 came into law on Jan. 1 this year, WSIB was extended to tens of thousands of contractors not previously required to pay into it. Everyone was given 12 months to comply. Now, with less than six weeks to go until that deadline, WSIB are coming over heavy handed with their very blunt messages in the media.  

Yes, there is an exemption for home renovators. But you  can claim WSIB exemption ONLY if you do home renovations 100% of the time. Meaning, your business only works on existing private residences. You must be hired and paid by the occupant or a member of their family.

The twist in the story is, if you are a home renovator and are hired by a property owner or a landlord (someone who owns the house/property but does not live in it), you will not be considered exempt.

Homeowners who own and rent out residential properties must beware. Under WSIB guidelines, they now become liable under WSIB laws and are seen as constructors. Meaning, if they send anyone to their rental property to do work (whether that is a sole proprietor home renovator, a tradesperson, a duct cleaning company, a roofing company, property maintenance people, etc.) they become liable for all these folks’ WSIB premiums and can be fined up to $100,000 if they don’t obtain valid clearance numbers from WSIB first.

To make things worse, these homeowner/landlords fall under the Ontario Occupational Health & Safety Act. Meaning, by sending anyone to their rental property, they are an employer. They will be held responsible for the safety of these people while working at their rental property. The reason is: the rental property is a business! If anyone hired takes a fall off their ladder, because the ladder was either faulty or not tied down top and bottom (O. Reg 213/91, s. 80), then the homeowner/landlord could well be taken to court and prosecuted under Ministry of Labour laws. They would face up to $25,000 in fines, plus a potential 25% “victim surcharge” and up to 12 months in jail.

So the WSIB isn’t messing around. They are looking for your money. And both they and the Ministry of Labour can take you to court if you don’t comply. 

Watch WSIB video on who is exempt, including officers of companies and partner in partnerships.

Register online with WSIB

CARAHS is a non profit association for renovators and home services providers. We offer education, information and benefits.

CARAHS offers over 90 Health and Safety online e-courses online here.                                                                                                                                      Toll free 1-866-366-2930

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24 Comments » for Ontario WSIB registration deadline just six weeks away. They want your money.
  1. Steve says:

    I would say that even if you aren’t required to get wsib you should. It only takes one audit to make you life a headache. See the drywall contractor and wsib to prove my point.

    You need to read between the lines. Government is going to make everyone pay at some point so you migh as well ge use to it. It just take one aduitor that does know what they are doing to make your life miserable.

  2. Sean Keane says:

    I get your point but totally disagree with the answer. For far to long the construction industry has been saddled with regulation and tax seemingly on a yearly basis. To simply accept this continually is ludicrous. So I read here do not put up a fight. No insult intended but given the fact you note my video should provide you an example of people who will fight for what is right. There is more to come besides the Audit, this was only a fraction of what needs to be spoken about. There is more to this audit and what I have uncovered. Keep watching.

    I will give you an example a little taste you could say. As you will note all of the people working for me were declared employees. Fine yet something else happened. Two workers were injured, they filed for compensation. The fact they were independent operators was used against them and what they received from compensation was very little. WSIB wants their cake and eat it to. On one hand you are expected to pay premiums as an employee on the other you will not receive the proper benefit because you are self employed.

    Therfor accepting your idea close your eyes and accept you knocks is simply not the right attitude.

    • This bill needs to be repealed post haste. The idiotic rhetoric about a “level playing field” is simply untrue. All Bill 119 (and mandatory WSIB coverage) is doing is putting the skilled independent operators out of business with either outrageous premiums or draconian punishments, and forcing them to work for huge companies who can afford the payroll increases.

      This law and the politicians who have written it are parasites who need to be eliminated. Instead of fining or imprisoning hard working skilled workers in Ontario, maybe we should jail the politicians.

  3. Mark says:

    I am dealing exclusively with home owners but due to the fact that it could be an rental property or even a home business I am not taking any chances and paying my premiums just avoid any headaches. Some home business are sole proprietorship and they ask the invoice under their name so there is no way that I could trace to see if they use it towards their home business or not. So I would suggest to everyone in my position to be very careful as a friend of mine who is in the stucco business went bankrupt because of the fines from WSIB.

  4. Sean Keane says:

    Well played by reading your post you are not who you allude to be. Second I would love to speak to your stucco contractor and evaluate his situation.

  5. Hello Mark, after having just listened to another webinar on bill 119 WSIB I have a couple of comments. If you are working with the homeowner only and the money is coming out of their personal bank account you would be exempt. If your status does change where you are being paid with a company cheque from a homeowner you must change your independent status with WSIB and you only have to pay for 3 months and then you can go back to independent status if you are not doing any more commercial work. If you hire sub trades you must request them to provide a clearance for you and you have to keep the clearances for 3 years otherwise you will end up paying premiums on the sub trades. If you have any other questions on WSIB we can help

  6. Dave Kelly says:

    I am an sole proprietor/independent operator. Have been for 4 years now. I signed up with WSIB last January. I had to. Not only do I work for homeowners, I also work for other General Contractors when necessary for fill in work between jobs. No WSIB No work.
    With my revenues and the “formula” they use to calculate the premiums I pay anywhere from $450.00 – $900.00 per quarter. I charge accordingly for my services and add it into my pricing.
    It has helped me get jobs from homeowners as well, they appreciate the fact that I have coverage and have taken the initiative to get it. I use it as a sales tool as well. Educate the customer. It works.


    • Sean Keane says:

      So in other words you have accepted the fact. One pay WSIB gets you the job it has nothing to do with the professional quality you and by the way your company provides. Explain to me and the readers how paying WSIB vs London life, State Farm, co operators makes you special. One each of these insurance companies will compensate you for the insurance you pay for. Explain to me how paying WSIB premiums makes you safer on the job than someone who has private insurance. By the way private insurance that covers you when falling down a set of stairs whether at home or at work. WSIB will only convert you if you fell down those stairs at work. If you fall at home to bad. And further more you have to fight comp to prove you are injured. Then you have to prove how your income us derived. So people wake up

  7. Fraser McConney says:

    As independent operators why can’t we work for homeowners and maintain our exempt status. But file register and comply for all commercial work. Pay premiums based on the commercial work only. If ninety percent of my work is directly for home owners and ten percent commercial why do I pay on 100 percent of the work? Homeowners buy cabinets from me, does Home Depot or Ikea pay into WSIB? Same goes for commercial they buy from me they could buy from any office supplier and if they deliver they technically go on the job site they should be under the same scrutiny.

  8. Sean Keane says:

    So here in is the story. All day long now we hear the WSIB add pointing directly towards homeowners in General. The add is definitely false advertising. Their “is” an exemption contained within the act no matter how complicated the exemption is, it exists. This is a propaganda add to instil fear into the minds of a homeowner and force their will upon the masses. As some of you who have read my comments in the past or have looked at the Video posted by Mr. Koci will come to realize this form of action has been ongoing for a lot of years.
    In 1992 the WSI act was changed in regards to the status of independent operators and how the act dealt with the issue. The act removed the responsibility of a company to pay for independents and placed the payment of Premiums solely on the backs of the SELF EMPLOYED individual. However this was voluntary. A SELF EMPLOYED individual was given the right to choose. However throughout the coarse of my studies to present a defense in my case I uncovered many WSIAT decisions that point out another misconception. Although the WSi act was changed the WSIB neglected to inform the industry of the changes and continued to wrongfully collect premiums from businesses that Utilize SELF EMPLOYED individuals. In my book, that is theft. And trust me they have been caught but never exposed. We did not see such an advertising campaign back then did we. As I mention in the video companies simply continued to pay because they were never informed of the Changes. However companies that began after the 1992 change new the new rules and did not pay for SELF EMPLOYED individuals only to be audited and forced to close or pay.
    Jump forward to bill 119, this bill has not changed the recognition of a SELF EMPLOYED individual this still remains in tact. What it has changed is the enforcement with the exception of the renovation exemption. Simply put the bill seeks to legalize what the audit department has done illegally since 1992. What is depicted in this video will become a reality for “ALL” construction next year when the “ENFORCEMENT” comes into effect.

  9. wayne says:

    Bottom line is Canada Revenue and WSIB share info. Its all about the money and CRA getting their tax. I’m all for fair taxation but being forced to pay for insurance to WSIB for inferior coverage I can get elsewhere is a piss off. I certainly do not feel safer. I also love the welcome packet thanking me for my business. What a joke, I had no choice but to give them my business. I would gladly pay for insurance, but a choice in companies would be fair. Feels like the mob forcing me to pay protection money.

  10. john says:

    hi, im a professional painter, i used to work for a guy who paid me as self employed for many years, i had my own tools then etc… i decided to go on my own a few years back and familiar with how the subcontracted deal worked, it was easy for him to write a check and move on to get the next job. since on my own ive always just worked on residential homes for home owners. and for the last 2 years ive been just working alone with no help, good thing because i didnt hear anything about manditory wsib until driving home near christmas 2013, it was on the radio. anyway, ive been trying to educate myself since then on the matter if i decide to hire a fella or two as self employed person, the way i used to work, even though i only do residential homes, would i need to obtain certificates from them?,or could i just call wsib,( protect myself from paying someones bill later) when the time comes and pay premiums on what checks i would pay out, so i wouldnt need to ask for certificates. meaning me get a clearence number to be able hire subs? or would i have to hire workers and learn how to do payroll. etc.. im just a very small fish in this big shark tank and dont want to make any mistakes to get swallowed up.. any info on this would be great thanks in advance.

  11. Hello John , You have very valid concerns. First if you hire anyone who is self employed They MUST be register themselves with WSIB and provide you with a clearance certificate. If you only do residential you are still not required to have WSIB for yourself. But everyone who comes on your job site must have WSIB. You have the option of registering and paying the premiums on your subs which then puts you in the clear if you ever get audited and don’t have clearance certificates on each sub. Don’t forget WSIB can go back 2 years when reviewing your books for an audit and then make you pay back premiums which would also include penalties. If you want to have a discussion CARAHS provides a free consultation on WSIB issues you can call our toll free at 1-866-366-2930. Another area of concern you may not be aware is the new health and safety standards and requirements and we can have a discussion about that as well.

    • sean keane says:

      As a matter of fact WSIB is now refusing to issue clearance numbers to individuals or sole proprietors who have start up businesses. This has happened to two separate people I know of. In one case I called WSIB on behalf of the Company. I explained the act and the legislation to the WSIB employee and was met with this response. We know and understand but this is what we have been told.
      The reason for this treatment is simply put to enforce an 18 month rule upon the self employed. Forcing anyone who deals with the independent to pay the premiums for that individual. I have contacted the MOL and The OPB of the WSIB with this concern. Simply put the 18 Month rule is a board policy that if challenged will not stand up in court let alone a decision appealed to WSIAT.
      While there is in place a and “insured or Net” income clause in the legislation. Without a breech of the Freedom of Information Act no Principal can arrive at the “insured or Net” income of the independent.
      Just another example of the negligence of the WSIB and proof that the legislation equipped with the board “policy ” is designed simple to steal from the public to repair mistakes they have made with in the system itself.,
      I have heard rumors that the Liberal Government has now realized the errors yet to save political face refuses to address the issue.

  12. Thank you Sean for the information about new self employed. I was not aware of this ruling. Perhaps you and I should have a conversation about WSIB.

  13. john says:

    thank you Monica. ill look in to the new health and safety coming into effect july 1. I am going to just keep working alone now until they decide to change things or bankrupt me out of business and kill me off.. it is safer though to have someone on the bottom of my ladder, or have company to make the days faster and give me more drive to make more money to help some other people pay bills, old saying, many hands make light work and less accidents.. but since these laws are keeping me from expanding, i cant afford to charge another 10 percent to a customer who cant earn it, or eat the cost my self. plus pay other business costs. im just going at it alone.. but yous know! its a wonder why places like dupont are down to 12 people now out of 1200, and kellogs factories are leaving this year in ontario, why rona is closed, zellers shut down, automotive companies moved away, they feel the blunt too, nobody can afford products and services or make money to pay wages.. no body can earn money to create more work. all the factories are suffering and now all contractors, small businesses suffer too, there will be no large companies soon because nothing is keeping them here? those large companies support people to spend money to buy products and services from smaller businesses to become larger ones. money has to flow and be made to increase growth.. a new plan for government to build houses to increase jobs? i like that one! for what? sure some people who lost their careers have a new job now temporarily if they pay their premiums on time based on what they made last year. or risk cash or get audited and give away their life savings in fines.. that would make me fall off a ladder! thats who is looking out for our safety? by stressing out the economy?. might increase the crime rate.. do police officers pay wsib premiums? or fireman? how about parliament hill? offices have to pay now right? so 5 to 18 percent of out country money should go to wsib right? its the law or pay $100.000 for each offence.. does this mean that government might owe 1000 billion billion in fines. cmon! i doubt it.. its unfair that contractor have to charge between 5 to 18 percent more to do any work now. which will drive up the cost dramatically to buy a new home.. i guess it will be all good now because another law came out to fix the last one, that minimum wage went up so people can afford more, to those Companies who already suffer?? make sure you raise the costs of your products or get out! and move somewhere else. cause thats how we do our business in canada! EHHH!

  14. Hi John…all these areas are in effect right now and the July 1 2014 is the deadline date. After that they clamp down with fines and more.

    This is nothing more than slapping more red tape on to a industry that’s already overloaded. Its getting harder to make an honest dime


  15. john says:

    i agree with you alec. I feel we are all just a bunch of sheep in this country that get shaved of our coats and run by crappy farmers. it is us who run the country because without citizens there would be no government. it is our hard work who pay their 400.000 bonuses and retirement packages. this is nothing but a scam to take more from honest hard working people. we are basically being run into slavery.. working hard to get nothing. they are supposed to be working for us. not the other way around. atleast thats the way it used to be. we have no say anymore, just vote for liers, people are so used to the crazy hikes they just take it now and do their best to adjust or quit. this is rediculous! harmonized tax, gas prices, high energy bills, food costs, insurances, now this burden. if canadians dont step up as a team and put an end to this torture, we will never be able to retire and leave our kids anything because we will all eventually renting and making minimum wage. thats my opinion

  16. Kathy says:

    I’m still out here fighting the WSIB Mandatory. Guess if they take us to court is when our VOICES will be finally listened to then. The Liberal/NDP coalition has ELIMINATED Income by legit sm. businesses now closing their businesses, going bankrupt and laying off employees! At least if we are in a court of LAW and not left to the pushy buddies, unions and others that back the Liberals then they too would have to be called in to testify and finally hear OUR VOICES too which they vehemently denied us to speak. Bring it on! Class Action Suits will appear if this bill is not repealed in FULL

  17. Kathy says:

    Alex: What radio station did you hear this ad running on about the Homeowner I would like to hear that so that I can ad that to ‘evidence’ that this government will stop at nothing to screw over EVERY Ontarian for their buddies who put them in their seats at the Legislative Assembly

  18. Sean Keane says:

    The vast majority of GTA media was promoting this agenda paid for by the MOL and WSIB on 680 it was almost an hourly affair. I did send emails that the report was malicious and wrong. I continue to hear the same adds on occasion. All through the internet as well as twitter the same sediment is being portrayed by different groups. Some using the adds to promote their business above all others using the phrase WSIB compliant. I believe a disgusting attempt by some unscrupulous renovators to offer something that is not real to set themselves apart.

    As far as lawsuits go I continue my battle with the WSIB and the Union read at a site I created to show everyone what and how I did what i did. To update we have two more scheduled discoveries One on April 07 and the next on April 08. According to what I have been told by legal we should expect a trial date in November. As you can imagine dealing with government type lawyers they create a system of delay after delay. I expect we will be looking at judicial interference to force WSIB to release documents relating to this case. The continually refuse to provide certain pertinent information about their audit practices. We will cross that bridge as we move on.
    Upon a successful outcome in the courts, which I believe will be that, this case will not only expose the fraudulent system in place it will offer a precedent for others to use up to and including a class action suit

  19. dean says:

    A bill is not law or an act which means not enforceable to the level that we have all be told.
    First off the more that comply to this bill the more then likely it will become a Law and enforceable Act and you will have no more choice at this point.

    So with that said if you agree to complying to this bill by signing up for this type of coverage you agree to this to be passed as a Law.

    Don’t be fooled and bullied to the point where you agree to something you don’t. Stand strong and don’t sign anything related to bill 119 period.

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