Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

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

Canadian Contractor

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?

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 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.


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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