Canadian Contractor

Untangling Canada’s workers’ compensation insurance web

WCI rules vary by province. If you’re moving or hiring, you need to know what rules apply

March 28, 2016
By Nicole Silver

Nicole SilverNicole Silver, Public Relations and Digital Marketing Specialist at TrustedPros Inc.has surveyed the WCI landscape across Canada and discovered a number of provincial variations concerning mandatory registration, particularly as they impact smaller companies. Here is a brief overview, although by no means totally comprehensive.

(This article has been edited from the original longer version.
To view the original, please CLICK HERE)

WCI regulations differ provincially and can vary depending on the number of employees. As a contractor or employee, you need to understand the rules, especially as your business grows, or if you work across borders or are relocating to a different province seeking employment.

Coverage for company principals varies province-to-province
Generally speaking, WCI coverage is mandatory for part-time, full-time, or contract workers. Failure to have coverage may result in legal action in the event of a workplace injury. However, in certain cases, a sole proprietor, partner, or executive of the business may be exempt from mandatory WCI coverage, although in some cases there are options for personal (i.e., voluntary) WCI coverage. Again, it depends in which province you work.


A company employing contract workers, subcontractors, and any other type of worker is required by law to have WCI for its employees, unless these employees have WCI covered by another company.

Note: Sole proprietors without employees are not obligated to have WCI. They can opt for personal coverage options instead. 

British Columbia
Any employer hiring at least one worker on a full-time, part-time, or contract basis is required to register for WCI with WorksafeBC. General contractors hiring workers or labor contractors are also required to register their employees if they don’t carry their own WCI. General contractors hiring subcontractors belonging to other firms may still need to register these subcontractors under their own business. Any contractor who does not carry their own insurance must be covered by their employer for the project. It’s important that contractors verify that their subcontractors are covered by WCI in BC. If the subcontractor is not covered, the contractor may be liable for unpaid premiums.

Note: In BC, principals are considered workers in their company. The principals of incorporated companies with employees are entitled to the same WCI they provide for their workers.

WCI coverage is mandatory for most business with their own employees. In general, contract workers in mandatory industries are required to have their own coverage.

Note: Sole proprietors are not required to have their own WCI, but personal coverage is an option.

New Brunswick
Any employer who hires three or more workers at any time in one year must register with WorkSafe NB for WCI coverage, no matter if they are full-time, part-time, or casual employees. This is considered mandatory coverage. Voluntary coverage may be requested by an employer who has fewer than three employees hired in a year. However, this coverage may not be granted.

Newfoundland and Labrador
All businesses must be registered with the Workplace Health, Safety & Compensation Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador (WHSCC). Any homeowner who learns that their contractor is not registered will also learn that they are potentially liable either for either the WHSCC assessments or directly liable in case of injury. They won’t like that!

All businesses and employers must register with Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission (WSCC).  WIC coverage is mandatory for workers in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

Nova Scotia
Employers in the construction industry with three or more workers must provide their workers with mandatory WCI.

Note:  Employers who have less than three employees are not subject to this rule. These workers can include permanent, full-time, part-time, casual, contractors, and subcontractors. Furthermore, proprietors, officers, and partners are not covered under mandatory WCI, although optional coverage plans are available.

All businesses must register with The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Ontario (WSIB). WCI is mandatory for workers in the construction business, including partners, independent operators, sole proprietors, or executive officers in corporations who are working labourers as well. The moment a business hires an employee, they must cover the employee’s WCI.

Note: Business owners are not included in the mandatory WCI coverage WSIB demands for employees. 

Moving or hiring may trigger compulsory WIC registration. Each province has its own rules

Moving or hiring may trigger compulsory WIC registration. Each province has its own rules

Every business must register with the Prince Edward Island WCB and most are required to have WCI coverage for one or more employees. WCI covers full-time, part-time, contract, or family members on payroll.

Note: The Worker’s Compensation Act does not automatically cover employers of businesses, individual operators, business directors, or executive officers of corporations. Optional insurance can be purchased by these individuals.

All employers with at least one employee must register with the Quebec WCB. The Act Respecting Industrial Accidents and Occupational Diseases (AIAOD) demands that all workers are covered by their employers under WIC. Workers that are automatically protected include apprentices, full and part-time workers, and contract workers.

Note: Personal coverage may be purchased for proprietors, executive officers, sole owners (unless they have at least one worker).

Employers who hire employees in Saskatchewan are obligated to register with the Saskatchewan WCB. It is also mandatory that their workers are covered under WCI.

Note:  Employees cannot get personal coverage in Saskatchewan, since employers register with the WCB.

It is mandatory that employers register with the Yukon Workers’ Compensation Health & Safety Board (YWCHSB) and pay their assessments. WCI is mandatory for workers and employers must register with YWCHB within 10 days of hiring their first employee.

Note: Directors of incorporated companies are considered workers under YWCHSB, however, they can apply for WCI exemption if they meet the criteria of a Non-Working Director. Coverage is optional for sole proprietors in contract services.

All information published in this article was collected from each provincial Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) resource website, and from provincial WCB representatives through direct communication. The information provided in this publication represents the facts as TrustedPros has understood them, according to the information provided to us during the research period. Rules and regulations may change after the date of this publication. We encourage all businesses and consumers to contact their local WCBs to confirm the latest rules and regulations, and to confirm additional requirements subject to particulars that apply to their specific situation.

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2 Comments » for Untangling Canada’s workers’ compensation insurance web
  1. Martin says:

    Hello, need correction for Qc –
    An employer need to register to the CNESST (Qc WCB) if he’s establish in qc (one building) and have 1 worker (full or part time).
    So if you are from another province, you don’t need to register
    (French part below)
    “Si votre entreprise a un établissement au Québec et que vous employez au moins un travailleur​​, à temps plein ou à temps partiel, il est obligatoire de vous inscrire à la CNESST pour l’aspect de la santé et de la sécurité du travail”


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