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New WSIB rules mandate coverage for all industry players 

By Laurie Bissonette, KPMG Enterprise
Wed, March 13, 2013 @ 10:00 AM
 


This article was originally published in the March 2013 edition of the Northern Ontario Business.

The mandatory WSIB regulations that came into effect in January extend insurance benefits already in place for employees to business owners, as well as corporate officers, inde­pendent operators, sole owners and busi­ness partnerships. While the new rules will impact the cost structures for many in the construction industry, they will also en­sure that companies and individuals doing construction in Ontario have adequate coverage.

 

For example, under the new rules, any­one working in the industry (not just the office worker or the labourer, but also the owner) is required to have the mandatory WSIB coverage. In most cases, dividends are included as well in the computation of insurable earnings.

 

Your role as a business owner is to en­sure that anyone you contract with fol­lows through on their obligations under the act. If the person you hired doesn’t comply, you could be called on to pay the premiums to the WSIB yourself.

 

Additionally, if you employ a contractor you have to ensure that you obtain a clear­ance certificate from the WSIB before the contractor begins work. If, for some rea­son, the contractor has an expired certifi­cate or their certificate has been revoked while construction is still ongoing, you are responsible for securing a valid clear­ance certificate before any further work can be done on the project, opening up a potential can of worms for construction companies and developers alike. That same clearance certificate must be kept for three years in case an inspection takes place. Even if you don’t have employees but are an independent operator and/or partner, you will still need to have a valid clearance certificate to work.

 

However, there are some noteworthy exceptions to the rules. Individuals, part­nerships or corporations performing ex­clusively residential home renovations are exempt from registering with the WSIB under certain circumstances—re­lated to working directly for the occupant or a family member of the occupant on their residential home.

 

Partners or executive officers that wish to be exempted will have to demonstrate that they themselves are not involved in any actual construction work pertaining to any and all building sites. The catch, however, is that only one person, partner or executive officer can apply for the ex­emption in the case of commercial con­struction. For other executive officers in a non-construction corporation or part­ners in a partnership, there is a new rate group with a premium rate for 2013 of 21 cents that can be applied for and added to the account.

 

Private disability coverage

Previously, workers may have taken on private disability insurance where now WSIB coverage is required by law. The WSIB takes precedence for compensat­ing workers who are injured on the job. Those with disability coverage are ad­vised to speak with their insurer and un­derstand how the new rules affect their premiums and work-related claims.

 

Penalties for non-compliance with provisions of the act can result in fines of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment for six months. Corporations can also be hit with $100,000 fines for each infraction.

 

Now that the new rules have come into effect, it is extremely important to understand your obligations, factoring them into how you do business so as to minimize your exposure to any liability that could arise, enabling you to avoid any unforeseen consequences.

 

 

Laurie Bissonette

 

 

Laurie Bissonette is a partner with KPMG Enterprise in Sudbury, Ontario. 

 

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