Canadian Contractor

Drywaller suing WSIB for $6-million (VIDEO). Our most-viewed video this year

If you haven't seen this video yet, watch it if you can. A contractor is taking it to the WSIB in the courts. Now, that's a switch.


December 19, 2013
By Robert Koci

This video, which we posted about a month ago, has become the most-watched video in the two-year history of our website.

Sean Keane, president of Keyon Drywall, was audited by the Ontario WSIB in 2006. By 2007, they were hitting him up for $340,000 in back-premiums for his workers (averaging around 50), which WSIB claimed were employees. Keane claimed they were independent operators. After great difficulty in getting a proper hearing, WSIB withdrew its claim for the $340,000, more than three years after Keane was first asked to pay up. The WSIB admitted that it had been… wrong.

But Keyon Drywall had folded by this time.

In 2010, Keane decided to sue the WSIB for their “negligent” audit.

The Durham, Ont.-based contractor has decided to publish all his court documents – and a lot of other paperwork supportive to his case – at a website he has just launched called wsibdefence.ca.

The lawsuit is nowhere near resolution more than three years later. Another round of “examination for discovery” (essentially, both sides declaring their evidence openly) won’t take place until March.


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39 Comments » for Drywaller suing WSIB for $6-million (VIDEO). Our most-viewed video this year
  1. David says:

    Hello,

    I was audited in 2011 and billed $35000. I was strong armed to pay that entire bill or I would not be able to get clearance certificates.

    Is there an opportunity to appeal my audit and get my money back?

  2. Sean Keaen says:

    David,
    I may be able to help. Send an email to myself or Robert. We will need more details in order to determine the nature of the audit. Type of business, what was the issue. We your people self employed. I can have a quick look and usually I can tell right away whether or not you have a similar case.

  3. Dean Kadikoff says:

    When did this country start turning into such a communistic dictatorship where our public employees and it’s departments; be it federal, provincial or municipal, are sanctioned and given such powers to allow such heavy handed approaches as is the case here. To have it continually return to the same auditor’s desk, and not be given an opportunity to be reviewed by any other avenue within that department is just incomprehensible. There needs to be safeguards for us, the Canadian public, to be given the opportunity, nay the right, for a fair and unbiased review, within a resonable amount of time. This specific case has been going on for nearly 4 years, absolutely unacceptable. I speak not only about WSIB but any other government department or agency that has the power to pull money out of the working man’s pockets. Most folks just pay up because they can’t afford to fight these issues even if they know they are right. It’s wrong, terribly wrong. Wake up Canada, I fear that it may already be too late.

  4. Michelle says:

    This is exactly why they needed mandatory coverage. 100 drywallers all ‘independent contractors’? (if I heard that correctly). So if I had all our employees get an HST number we would magically be justified in avoiding WSIB premiums? Sorry Sean….but I just don’t agree. I’m sorry that you lost your business and suffered loss because of all this, but honestly, this is largely the reason there is an unfunded liability in the first place. As a commercial contractor, I’m glad that WSIB did away with all this ‘grey’ area and levelled the playing field for us folks merely trying to do an honest days work. All the best to you in the future.

    • Robert Koci says:

      I think Sean’s point is that the WSIB changed its mind as to the status of the drywallers he hired. Where they were deemed independent operators and Sean could order his business with that understanding, the WSIB retroactively deemed them employees and Sean was saddled with a huge cost that he could not have anticipated. It the decision to change the status of those workers that killed him.

    • Bill says:

      Wsib is a money grab for the Government I am an independent Drywaller and I would’ve worked for Sean and I had better coverage on my own then WS IB will ever give me and I don’t have to fight to get something out of them. I used to pay $56 a month for $10,000 a month coverage so if I got Hurt I would get $10,000 a month plus hospital fees or any other fees on top of that and I don’t have to go to court to get money out of them because their first response is’nt to deny you. I pay $1000 a month to WSIB to hear them say no it’s not from work or if I’m late on a payment they freeze my account and won’t give me a clearance until I pay but I can’t pay without a clearance wsib are Bullies and they don’t care as long as they get their money and that came out of their mouth personally told them I need a clearance to get a $30,000 check to pay them their answer was I don’t care you have to pay first or no clearance!!!!!

  5. Sean Keane says:

    Michelle first of all I did not write the laws that govern how we do business in this country, I follow the regulations. This particular regulation up until January 2013 included a voluntary option for Independent operators. We are offended by your comment this is what is needed. Let me be clear most of these independents had or still have private coverage. I suggest you read the new WSI act to clarify your position and to comprehend exactly what is stated with in the act itself. Construction in particular is a migratory institution meaning One individual can work for more than one company at the same time meaning their income is derived from many sources. An employee works at the same location all the time ie a manufacturing job and their income is derived from a single source.

    As far as the unfunded liability goes you are again miss informed. In fact my company was paying premiums for employees and to top that of we were paying approximately 20% to unions for benefits. Two men working for us were injured and received very little from WSIB because of their independent status and nothing from their unions because they were injured on the job . They ended up bankrupt due to their injuries. So explain to me that portion of the unfunded liability and explain again how forcing hardworking people to pay into this regime of fraud negligence and extortion could ever be seen as a good idea or leveling the playing field.

    On one hand they are considered my employees when collecting premiums and on the other when they were injured they were declared independents. That is not even morally justified.

    • Michelle says:

      I certainly didn’t mean to offend you, and I apologize for that. I realize it was voluntary prior to January 2013. I am also a unionized commercial contractor and am well aware of the rules and regulations. I agree that you should not have to pay premiums for the retroactive time where WSIB had deemed these individuals as ‘independent’; they should absorb that cost. I also agree that the ruling of independent or worker needs to be the same on both the premium paying and benefit determination sides. I maintain, however, that mandatory coverage is a much fairer playing field and removes (most) opportunity for confusion and/or argument in our industry which has a huge ‘under the table’ market. “Explain again how forcing hardworking people to pay into this regime of fraud negligence and extortion could ever be seen as a good idea or leveling the playing field.” Comments like this serve no good, frankly. I have known many friends and employees who have benefited from the WSIB system after a workplace injury. They were well-represented and their financial needs met. Obviously no system is perfect, and again I regret the experience that you’ve had.

      • Sean Keane says:

        Michelle, Thank you for your comments and concern. However as much as I agree that people should look after their financial interests especially in time of need or to protect their families financially if they are injured. Forcing construction into this system does nothing to curb the underground economy. The illegitimate contractors are still going to be the same. This legislation simply widens the gap and adds much more incentive to pay in cash especially in the renovation sector. This legislation is two fold. One, the massive unfunded liability needs to be addressed and by forcing this industry to pay into the system has nothing to do with safety or injury. Two the unions thought by lobbying for this legislation would cause non union contractors a charge that would close the gap. The answer here is arrived from a question. Is there a difference between a non union electrician versus a union electrician? The answer in this situation is No. Each electrician now has to pay the WSIB so how is the gap closed.

  6. ralf weber says:

    as far as i am concerned wsib are crooks, i run may own business for 8 years now, i had my own private insurance in case i get hurt, now wsib comes in and says you need topay us too, and the premiums are triple what i payed my insurance company, ihad to drop my wage so i dont have to pay all thes premiums, they are just ou to lunch. So i talked to wsib if i can still keep my own insurance, they said no it is double dippin, so i had to cancel my insurance, i dont think it should be up to wsib to tell me how many insurances i can have cause i know to get anything out of those crooks is next to impossible, a friend of went on wsib because of an injury, doctor says his drywalling days are over, few nonths of wsib, 8 weeks of computer training, bingo you are now qualified computer tech, no more wsib and all he learned was how to turn a computer on and off, lot of us older people dont know much about computers, so my friend is back to drywalling so he can support his family, sad. wsib should not tell me how much coverage i can have as long as i pay for it. They collect now pay up as far as iam concered, i dont kow for a lot of single contractors or anybody for that matter of fact cancome up with that money and still make ends meet, my private insurance has a lot mor to offer and i would not have to jump thru hoops to get it, and than double my premiums afterwards, i think nobody wants to collect wsib cause that means you got hurt, but to treat you like a crook and a liability after a claim is just wrong. Power to the hard working contuction canadian

  7. Brian says:

    I also own a business doing commercial construction. 100 “independant operators” give me a break! They are employees and always have been. This is a blantant attempt to avoid not only WSIB premiums but CPP and UI payroll taxes. Good luck with your lawsuit especially if Revenue Canada gets involved. No sympathy here

    • Steve Payne says:

      “A blatant attempt to avoid not only WSIB premiums but CPP and UI payroll taxes”? It might seem like that at first glance, but a close look through Mr. Keane’s pile of documents submitted to us, including not only his Statement of Claim to the Ontario Superior Court, but a number of other documents from WSIB, WSIAT, unions and other bodies, shows that this is an extremely disturbing case. If WSIB was out of control, and run by greedy, duplicitous bureaucrats drunk on their own power, stupidity or carelessness, the case would look exactly like the one that the man is presenting. The courts will decide if the WSIB should be punished. The WSIB itself has already withdrawn its claims to the premiums. Why would they do that?

      • CRAIG says:

        sorry to say guys, but the federal, provincial and municipal governments have absolutely nothing to do with the WSIB. The only time they will help is if a human rights violation has occurred or a race card is being played, something like that whereas then you can file a complaint to the ombudsman. Believe me the government does not give a flying shit about u and me. You are all barking up the wrong tree. The WSIB is its own private entity, again they do not answer to any level of government. They screw everybody and everything they can. Did u know a certain percentage of their pension money comes directly from u and me. If they rather have it go directly added onto their paycheck. They had the gall to tell me if they didn’t like the way I dress they could cut me off. And they did. I went from taking home 1700 per week to 500 per week to welfare at 600 per month. The bastards can do whatever they want to without any fear of being held accountable for any lies or stealing period. They may as well reach into your pocket and take it all. One last note, the end result will be decided by a tribunal, this is where you get your chance to kick the mf right in the nuts for all their years of mental and physical abuse they have caused. For those of u not aware of the system. a tribunal Is the exact same as a jury duty. Ordinary people off the streets will decide what your case is worth, no judge in sight. and you also have a say on who stays and who goes. BE SAFE AND GOOD LUCK TO ALL.

    • Sean Keane says:

      Brian as a matter of fact our company was audited by revenue canada in 1999 and these individuals were found to be independent operators and are required to pay their own taxes. This was well documented and we even have documents from revenue canada stating those exact words. This letter was presented to the auditor at the WSIB which he ignored. Second in the video I reference new generation drywall vs eht you should familiarize yours with that superior court of Ontario decision as well. For your sympathy sir it is you who are fooled here. Just because you do not understand the laws and regulations of this country you have no right to provide an opinion. I suggest you seek to educate yourself before making such comments.

      • Brian says:

        I can provide a WSIB clearance certificate for my company, you can’t.
        Tell me again who needs to understand the laws and regulations of
        this country? Its to bad Canadian Contractor has giving you a platform to spew your BS which in my mind is a criminal offence. Ooop, sorry about that I forgot I have “no right to provide an opinion”.

  8. Sean Keane says:

    Here in lies the issue. First of all you are wrong again the companies that have full time hourly employed are required to pay premiums to WSIB die those “employees ” to receive your cherished certificate. Keyon was at all times meeting with its requirements and was in good standing with the WSIB and was always able to provide the clean tells with that famous clearance certificate. Second I have been in this business for 25 plus years both as an owner and an employee and have a clear understanding of the rules and regulations that direct our business. All companies were and are unionized just in case you want to try that one against me. Third I gave the name of my business. I can provide the names of all the drywall companies who I have been employed by. What is the name if your company. May be important to verify who you say you are. Or are you simply an individual Aka union or comp. forth my history in this industry speaks for it self. Ask your tapers how is it stilts are now legal to be used in Ontario. Ask local 675 or 1891 who I am and what I have done besides this for our industry. And fifth this country is democratic we all have a voice including yourself. However educated opinion or not. I offer an educated opinion.

      • Sean Keane says:

        What did you not understand verify your company name. Let everyone know who you are. Easily verifiable I and my people whom I associate with no who I am. I an a contractor signatory with 675, 1891 builders associations etc… Who are you? Explain let everyone know who you are. Then your comments may carry some weight .

      • Sean Keane says:

        Funny you responded within minutes to again provide a disgruntled view. Ladies and gentlemen who view these comments I will give you something this guy has not. Reality, I am very easy to contact, I have nothing to hide, I do not profess to be a lawyer or an adjudicator. I do tell you my name,my company, I also provide who I worked for, what I have accomplished and what We with Steve Payne and Robert Koci are trying to do is help, not only the people who have been destroyed by this system, but to correct this atrocity. So again if this guy has a real company why would he not challenge by telling you who he actually is.

  9. ralf says:

    right on sean, u r the man, balls of steel, keep figthing

  10. Steve Ryan says:

    First of all, I applaud your stand. I think that the absence of accountability within WSIB has generated a system that is so broken that it may not be repairable. Even if the will to do so magically appeared.

    I am concerned though with a couple of cracks in your offense. Playing the amateur lawyer here, and I would be surprised if your professional lawyers haven’t already thought of this. However, WSIB isn’t the only institution who has taught us not to trust them. Lawyers follow close behind so I will go ahead and put these out there.

    Who says WSIB is required to follow the CRA criteria in determining who is an independent business? They’re a provincial agency for one thing, and their mandate, whether you believe it or not, is not primarily to collect money (unlike CRA). Their mandate is to protect workers from loss of livelihood (yes I know, I need to wear wellington boots just to get the words out).

    But that leads me to where your real trouble will come from in your lawsuit. I don’t mean to come across as a punk here, but based on one of your responses to an earlier comment, you may have already benefitted from WSIB more than you have been hurt. One of the core principals of WSIB, and the benefit employers always choose to overlook, is that in Ontario workers are not free to sue employers for losses due to injury in the workplace. You describe two of your workers (sub-contractors) who sustained injuries so significant that they had to declare bankruptcy. In an environment without WSIB, they might have sued you, and probably for sums well in excess of $340K. Plan on hearing that argument coming from WSIB when you say they have cost you your business.

    That being said, good luck. I go back to my original point. WSIB is an agency that has destroyed itself because it has no capacity to look critically at itself.

    • Sean Keane says:

      There are very few cracks, yes that discussion has been held with both our legal team and theirs. I will point out however this case is not about injured workers it is mainly about an improper audit and audit procedures.

      I will also point out and make it very clear Keyon was paying premiums to the WSIB. So much confusion over the years about who is and who was not, who was in the grey area you will find that the decision was made by the ARO was we had not underpaid we over paid.

      As far as the liability of a company or individual is concerned in who can and can not sue is another issue. And in my opinion is wrong. If an individual through their negligence lead to an injury I believe that person has a right to seek restitution. However you my want to look at a supreme court of Canada decision released in November re establishing an injured workers right to sue an employer after WSIB refused coverage.

      • Christine Kraus says:

        Thanks for all the information you are providing us and I hope you destroy WSIB. I have a crusade with them also, would you have that link for the supreme court case establishing an injured workers right to sue an employer?

  11. Sean
    Revenue Canada nearly destroyed me as well an independent operator must have 3 others he works for through the fiscal year.
    I had 10 people on a better plan outside the system, I was audited and forced to put them on W.S.I.B.
    To make matters worse Revenue Canada audited My books and determined that I owed them 3.5 Million in unpaid taxes.
    After 5 years of fighting with Rev-Can, I paid out to accountants hundred’s of thousands of dollars, we worked it down to 250 thousand dollars that I was in arrears this matched what we had re- filed. after the audit.

    • Sean Keane says:

      Mike,
      I am a little confused but may be able to offer some in sight. I totally understand what you have explained yet I have a couple of questions. Where did you or how were you provided the information about the requirement to work for three or more companies in order to be considered independent? Did these individuals have GST numbers? What type of business? Look at the website http://www.wsibdefence.ca pay particular attention to the new generation vs EHT decision. If that does not give an idea contact me with the answers to the questions. I may be able to lead you in the right direction. I will tell you a lot of accountants are not aware of legal legislation and of no fault of their own possibly unable to provide your best defence.

      • Mike Vettese says:

        I am not defending it I am done with it, all staff are now on the payroll properly.
        I am not about to be bullied again by any Government official who twists the rules.
        I was fined I was put into collection, it is still in collection
        I was told by Rev can that subs must work for 3 different companies.

      • Sean keane says:

        Mike,
        I understand your frustration and I must point out your comment identifies exactly what steve Payne’s article about communist type action, when did this happen. Far to often we as Canadians have allowed these organizations to run ramped. They have somehow created a fear of government that we now accept.

        Without knowing the particulars of you situation I can only offer this. For the past 100 years governing bodies have tried to reign in the independent operator, to remove that status from existence. At every avenue they have failed to do so. The Supreme Court of Canada has been involved many times over the years. There is a policy adapted by these decisions and a set of guidelines that all governing bodies are supposed to recognize. For example three cases come to mind. Montreal automotive and sagas international, and Waco drywall. Are all cases that use the same tools to identify the “who is and who is not” when dealing with independents. No where in those documents is the length of a relationship depicted to show any different relationship.
        That being said, no one is asking you to fight, it is your decision. Yet I will point out these cases were presented to the courts, mine is in front of the courts. We send our soldiers off to fight for what we believe in as democracy, yet we turn around and allow ourselves to be governed by fear. If we continue to allow these people to tramp on our morals, we are to blame. What are we showing our children, this is the way it is. I say no and taught each of my children to fight for their rights. By doing what I have, and believe me it’s not easy, I hope to show my children,their friends and everyone else enough is enough.

        That’s who I am and that is what I believe.

  12. David says:

    Burn WSIB TO the GROUND! This is what they do businesses and families!!!!!!!!! they DISTROY US! WSIB GO TO HELL RIPOFF

  13. ken says:

    i am a carpenter in the prov on ontario ,i have a lot of issues that i am dealing with 1 is w s i b they want me to pay about 27000.00 for the year which i only make 1300.00 for the year 2013 i had to close my business , which i also had to compete with the quebec contractors who work for cash ,and under cut the ontario contractors my boss at the time in 2011 told me that he needed a rep from his company to unload 3 transports from the united states which i did what i was asked ,the rbq and the ccq told me that i was cleared to unload these transports, they ask me for my driver lic , 1 year later i started to rec fines totaling $ 6000.00 ,and also home hardware employees who also take our contracts .

  14. Marcelo says:

    Hi I’m a painter and this is my opinion on this wsib issue.
    I’m a painter and is almost imposing this days to find an employer that will
    Hire you as en employee, so I have to work as a sub contractor.
    Now that’s fine with me but now I have to pay for my wsib and not my
    Employer ok fine then I guess the company that hires me will have to pay me
    More so I can justify me paying the 7.50% for painters wish to me is an incredible amount of money been an interior painter where the chances of been injure are very minimal. But no we get pay the same amount of money and on top of that I have to pay my wsib. This intire construction industry this days only benefits one person the contractor, it cost the employer a lot less money to hire some one as a sub then as en employe and with less responsibility towards the employe. There is something very wrong going on not only from the part of the wsib wish in my mine they are a legal fraud comany because I have hear stories of injure guys that were denied help even dough they have pay a lot of money to the wsib, but there is also something wrong going on with contractor only welling to hire you if you are an independent sub contractor.

  15. WSIB employer
    We pay for all of our employees 18.5 % of gross pay
    I understand why companies try to get around it
    its not worth the ramifications with WSIB at the end of it they will pay their share of the cost.
    people who want to be self employed have that right, if they work for multiple companies they can pay their own WSIB

  16. Deborah Guydos says:

    W.S.I.B. is one of the most crooked crooks around. They purposefully screwed with my claims so that I would lose my cases. They even sent the wrong file on purpose to wsiat so that I would lose my case, and refused to send the correct file, which was hidden in a different file. I’ve appealed decisions and faxed them and never receive a response back.

    • Christine Kraus says:

      WSIB has destroyed my life too. I was essentially chased out of my job after I was injured. WSIB stated I was given Modified work, washed their hands of it. What I didn’t know was no one want to hire you once you have a claim, or if they do they get rid of you for fear of a claim – re-injury. I have gone through hell with them and the jobs I had after. I did end up getting re-injured and my claim was denied…..totally obscene Bolshevik organization. Once you have a claim you are SCREWED for life.

  17. kill wsib says:

    Unfortunately Wsib has made it impossible for independent tradesmen to make a decent living. This mafia of an organization needs to be stopped. Until we have the option of private insurance; a different career or another province may be the only options.

  18. trish says:

    thank god for someone like you who is willing to go after wsib they are trying to destroy my life and i am not backing down god bless you in your fight

  19. Lance anderson says:

    After working for my brother in the hvac industry, gas piping I severely hurt my shoulder from gas piping to the point where I had a total shoulder replacement, I applied for (wsib) first they approved my claim but a few weeks later denied it an said I had arthritis, lol in only that one part of my body, what a ******* bunch of *******s, get rid of (wsib) they are just a typical insurance company looking to make enormous profits! Ponzi sceem ! I cannot believe the government would allow this, but then again look at that fat ass Duffy and fat ass Pam stealing from us too and even after they get caught they are still entitled to their pensions ,

  20. Darren MacKay says:

    What was once the Meredith Principals, which the Workers Compensation Boards of Canada were based on – Have now become a Chapter of “Animal Farm” for the Workers’ Con Boards of Canada.

    Here’s One Chapter:
    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search

    Here’s another:
    http://www.ourcourtssuck.com/DoctorKuntz.html

    There are Many Permanently Disabled and Injured Workers and Veterans whom are looking for Justice:

    Workers Con Boards of Canada, are Meant to Serve the Employer, Government and Lawyers- Not the Permanently Injured and Disabled Workers and Veterans!

    WCB Employees are Given BONUSES for Keeping Claims Down
    Employers are given REBATES to KEEP CLAIMS DOWN
    Government Keeps Collecting TAXES because the System is Forcing Injured Workers back to Work.
    Lawyers are Profiting from Injured Workers fighting for Benefits and Medical Care- for which they are entitled to – Yet DENIED- by a BIAS SYSTEM Controlled by Employers, and Government Legislation.

    Injured Workers Rights to Sue an Employer, was forfeited by the Government,
    yet the Government has Created Bill C-45 which allows Government to Sue the Employers for their Financial Gain.

    Democracy exits, only if you are Deaf, Dumb and Blind- and PROPAGANDA is Just a Politician away!

    Here’s a few Groups on Facebook looking for Justice:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/282557508569099/
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1554090128180672/
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/558139930920554/
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/349041635167896/
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/11868327550/
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/526896610671018/

    A recent study by the department of Employment and Social Development found there are at least 2,250 homeless veterans in Canada.

    http://www.foxrocks.ca/local-news/2016/06/13/tour-of-duty-brings-awareness-to-homeless-veterans

    Here’s a Petition which you do not have to Be an Injured or Disabled Worker to Sign,
    Please show your Support to those whom have been Pernamently Injured or Disabled through their Employment>
    http://www.gopetition.com/petition/19942.html

  21. parkash says:

    Hi
    i got a injury on June 12 2017, i lost my two fingers at work. if i get a lawyer can i sue the WSIB? if i sue the WSIB how long its take to get my future benefit?

  22. Doug says:

    Wsib is nothing more then a scam have watched my wife battle them for over 1 year she was hurt at work had to hire lawyer pay him to get approved to win then after that to be told daily they are to busy to pay what a joke

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