Canadian Contractor

Ottawa area renovator asks for your opinion on his 8.49% WSIB rate

This renovator, classed as a homebuilder by the WSIB without having once built a home, has been paying nearly 9 per cent for his WSIB. Comments anyone?


October 29, 2015
By Steve Payne

Does anyone care to respond to this Ottawa-area home renovation contractor, classed for no apparent reason as a “Homebuilder” by WSIB, who just sent me this email (his name withheld for privacy) about his WSIB rates. Please post a comment below, or if you wish, please email me at spayne@canadiancontractor.ca if you would like to chat with the gentleman offline.

Yesterday, in my office, we were calculating the current WSIB payment when my brother/landlord stopped in. He operates a mechanical garage in the same building my workshop and office are located. His garage employs himself, two full time mechanics, one full time counter guy and one part time counter guy. His workers’ comp for the past three months was $950. His rate is about 3.49%.

I, on the other hand, employ myself, five full time staff and one part time office staff. My workers comp for the same time frame was $4,950 and my rate is 8.49%

We draw similar salaries from our companies. I have to pay on my salary, he does not.

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All in all, we run very similar companies with very similarly skilled staff, paid similarly and honestly have the same risk of injury. The only injuries either one of us has had to our staff have been cuts and of those, typically to the hands.

In an entirely separate conversation, he charges $95 per hour labour and marks up parts from his wholesalers 30-50%. We buy materials at suppliers that will sell directly to the homeowner for the same price so it’s difficult to mark things up and people think we are overcharging them at $65 per hour. And his customers bring their problems to him, we have to go to ours!

Anyhow, I digress. When I ask any of my subcontractors (painter, drywaller, electrician and plumber) what they pay, it’s always in the 3-4%. No one pays more.

So my question is, why me? They call me a homebuilder. I’ve never built a home. Not once. Not even my own. So who decided I should be classed that way and what experience or background do they have to determine that?

And, honestly, don’t homebuilders today sub just about everything out? To the tradespeople listed above that pay a fraction of the percentage?

I’m asking for feedback from the Canadian Contractor community because anytime I call WSIB I get told that’s just how it is. It’s not debatable.  I understand WSIB’s role in society, I just don’t understand the logic in determining what the rate should be.

Please feel free to post a comment.


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9 Comments » for Ottawa area renovator asks for your opinion on his 8.49% WSIB rate
  1. Marten says:

    I am a one man show and I have to pay the same rate as you do. Never been hurt, never claimed a thing… Try collecting something and you will need to prove you cut your arm off first I think. I mix both residential and commercial const. Commercial is mostly door and door hardware along with toilet partitions, washroom hardware, etc. Just labour as I supply nothing. I have to carry 5 million in liability insurance as well. Go figure, not like anything I do will burn the building down but need to carry thing anyway. And the list of people in my pocket goes on and on and on.

  2. Jeremy says:

    I have a small residential renovation company (4 carpenters) based in Toronto. My rate is 9.1% (no claims) I would happily take 8.49% for the same work. Seems to me that you may not be classified correctly and could possibly be paying more, according to the WSIB. I would caution you that being incorrectly classified could become very problematic should you ever need to make a claim.

    Agreed why my plumber or electrician pays considerably less baffles me considering the work is near the same in terms of risk.

    No wonder you see all those brown bills at the cashier these days. Every time I go to a home improvement retailer I am amazed how many people are paying in cash. Surely they paid WSIB, HST, Source Deductions…..right????

  3. Fraser says:

    We are a two man millwork shop, we are on job sites only to install our products. And we pay 9.1%. Go figure.

  4. Derek says:

    I just got my premium assessment in the mail yesterday. British Columbia, we do commercial refrigeration air conditioning service and repair. Our rate is 1.4%. That is after a discount for having no claims.

    I think you guys are getting ripped off.

  5. Bruce says:

    I have a 1 man reno company on the prairies that does everything from garages to interior finishing. I pay to WCB But my rate is 2.43 down from 3.43 after 10 yrs of claim free service. I am covered minimally by my choice but any subs that do not have coverage themselves are covered by my WCB when working on my sites. You guys are getting screwed. I never want to advocate “underground ” trades but its a no wonder there is a problem at those rates! If they concentrated more on prosecuting the “underground” instead of making up the difference by over charging the honest guy they would be doing something worth while.

  6. Ted says:

    I quit having employees. Any extra help is paid by the owner directly.

  7. Diana Brown says:

    We have a staff of 6 and have been in the roofing business and paying WSIB faithfully with no claims for 27 years and currently paying 14.8%. First non life threatening claim and they are threatening to increase our premium and as we cannot provide alternative work for our employee we are being told we may have additional costs. PS – just sent them another $7065.37 for last guarter and they have paid out $4800.00 in total for our claim.

  8. Chris Langman says:

    Just take a few minutes and compare the WSIB rates to those of worksafeBC (both are available on-line). The difference will make your head spin (especially considering BC’s higher cost of living). Ontario’s construction trades are being fleeced and the sheep just keep forking it over! Ontario’s provincial government is simply funnelling money from small businesses who can not defend themselves to their friends in the insurance industry.
    I’ve said it from the beginning of mandatory WSIB coverage… Grow a spine and Don’t pay it! If everyone stopped paying them all together in a co-ordinated effort, the scum at Queens Park would get the message.

  9. jean-claude says:

    i do renovation and sometimes just tiles.and i have a farm. I call wsib and they explain to me the difference between trades and now i have 3 different rate 9.1 for renovation. 7.51 flooring. 8.80 for sawmill and planing. U just have to do the brake down and you save

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