Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

WSIB: How I stay exempt… in a legal manner

Canadian Contractor

"Instead of forcing a contractor to pay into WSIB, the government should have developed a law where all contractors are required to have a certain type of insurance plan... "

Here’s a post from a tiling contractor, Ron, re: the Ontario government forcing all contractors into WSIB if they do even ONE commercial job. Not many renovation contractors are able to resist doing at least ONE commercial-side job (even if just painting a doctor’s office) from time to time. 

“According to my figures, if I was to get stuck in the WSIB’s system as a contractor I would be paying about $6000 a year for the rest of my career. Currently, I do whatever it takes to stay exempt… in a legal manner. Most of my renovation work is directly for the homeowner, therefore my little one-man company is exempt from paying WSIB premiums or having a registration number. I’ve spoken to their agents a few times about “the rules.” Their program really limits my business but, of course, they do not care about that. Whenever a contractor wants to hire me for a residential job I have to inform them that I can only deal directly with the homeowner financially. Commercial work I have to decline altogether although one company that wanted to use my services put me on their payroll and I would work as an employee for a few months. I suppose this is the only way to stay “exempt.” In order to protect my customers in case of an injury I have a real disability policy that covers me 24 hrs a day whether at work or not and it costs me one quarter of what the WSIB would. Instead of forcing a contractor to pay into WSIB, the government should have developed a law where all contractors are required to have a certain type of insurance plan and listed an assortment of businesses that could provide such a policy. It would be fair and honest in a business sense which is what Canada is all about; not a corrupt and unreasonable “system” as what we are subjected to now.”


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8 Comments » for WSIB: How I stay exempt… in a legal manner
  1. Paul says:

    you are incorrect. even if you work directly for the homeowner you still have to provide a clearance certificate. even as a sole proprietor. And if you go on someones payroll, the employer has to pay your wsib premiums. It has to be a level playing field for all, none of this “legally I don’t have to pay wsib premiums” provide your company name to wsib lets see how long it takes to be audited.

    • Ron says:

      This is from WSIB’s website:

      “You will qualify for the home renovation exemption and will not be required to have WSIB coverage if:
      Your business only performs home renovation work 100% of the time.
      Your business only works on existing private residences.
      Your business is hired and paid by the occupant or a member of their family. This means that if you are hired by a property owner or a landlord (someone who owns the house but does not live in it e.g.: is renting it out, fixing it up to sell, or is building a new home), this work is not considered exempt home renovation work under Bill 119 Mandatory Coverage in Construction, and is not exempt.”

      Funny, years ago I registered online with WSIB so that I could get a clearance number which I was told was necessary by another contractor even if I didn’t have commercial jobs. About four months later I received a $100 fine. I called them and was told that I received the fine for not filing any income for the 3-month pay period to which I replied that I didn’t have any commercial work. Then I was scolded for registering my name and told that it is only required if I perform what is deemed “commercial work” and they deleted my number and withdrew the fine.

      It is all very confusing so I quickly learned more about their rules from a former WSIB agent.

      I am not cheating in any way; just trying to stay exempt. For the commercial job where I was paid as an employee for the duration of the project, yes, that company paid for my WSIB coverage. If I had entered into the WSIB system for that one, chances are that they would have labelled me a commercial contractor forever and I’d be screwed.
      Once, when I expressed to a WSIB representative that it is an unfair concept, having to pay the premium for three months on all work I did …even on the residential jobs that are considered exempt… if I took on a small 2-day commercial project, the rep said, “Just charge your customers more money”. Oh, yes, it so easy. Sigh.

  2. Rick says:

    We are a sales company that deal directly with the home owners and contract out all installation. Our installation crews have their own WSIB accounts and we are exempt and don’t wear the tools. We have our own Disability Insurance that covers us 24 hours/day not the 8 – 10 hours covered by WSIB.
    If we took on a job say with a town house corporation it is my understanding that WSIB would require us to pay for 3 months coverage even if the job takes one day or 3 weeks and ever if we should get hurt we would not be covered. the only difference is we half to deal with a middle man for the finances but it is the town home owners who decide the contract.
    Sounds a little like protection money from some gangster.
    Self employed business people drive the economy and provide work for the masses, we should not be penalized for doing this.

  3. Thanks for bringing up this subject again Steve.

    I totally agree with Ron’s comments and many contractors have since cancelled their private 24/7 coverage’s, because they can’t afford both. Its really bad, especially when many were covered privately for off the job (for accident) and some with sickness coverage like: cancer, heart attack or stroke.

    Another area you have to watch out for while working directly for homeowners. If they send you to (residential) rented premises, meaning its not their main place of residence, these rented premise are considered commercial properties. So WSIB exemption is lost.

    Further, what if they run a business from their main residence (the residence they live in) and you do work for them there and your either invoice their company name or receive their company cheque from the work you did. If so, its also considered a commercial job, again you loose your WSIB exempt status and now you have to sign up for a minimum of 3 months with WSIB. Its terrible, especially when self employed normally don’t make claims, as they have jobs to finish. Its a WSIB cash grab.
    Cheers. Alec

  4. Paul Bremner says:

    A good suggestion but where would all the old Liberal hacks work?

  5. John says:

    Here’s one for someone to answer.
    I did a written estimate for exterior painting. Eaves siding windows and doors.
    3/4 of the way through the job, the homeowner (or atleast said “my house with the address in a text) introduces me to the contractor performon other work on the house and informs me that he will be writing the check.
    The contractor says that im under his wsib and i dont need a certificate. Im in a battle now because i want to get paid but the only way i can is if i except the check.
    I want to stay exempt and its like im going to be forced into this.
    Any suggestions?
    I dont even know now if this house belongs to the person who said it does.
    Estimate not signed by the homeowner, ive always done the handshake methood. But i have texts him telling me that it is his house, texts to tell him that i need to be paid by him being the homeowner and not his contractor.

  6. Kendra says:

    I am wondering if there opening 2 businesses would help with wsib coverage. Having one company operate solely within the exemption rules and then having one company that deals with commercial jobs. I understand that running 2 businesses comes with a bit more paperwork, but would this not allow for only paying wsib premiums on the commercial renovation business?

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