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Who is covered by the Act?

To be entitled to benefits and services under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (WSIA/Act), you need to be a “worker” employed in a business or industry that is “covered” by the Act. 

Who is a worker?

A worker is a person employed under a contract of service or apprenticeship and includes, among others: 

  • a learner (this includes a placement through the Ontario Works Program)
  • a student
  • an auxiliary member of a police force
  • a member of a municipal volunteer ambulance brigade
  • certain members of a municipal volunteer fire brigade
  • deemed workers (see below)

contract of service is one way of describing the relationship between an employer and a worker.  Under a contract of service, which can be written or verbal, a worker agrees to work for an employer in return for wages or salary.  The employer controls most or all aspects of the work:  what, when, where and how the work is done.  Under a contract of service the employment relationship may include full or part-time work, piece-work, temporary agency work, or short term contracts.   

By contrast, the phrase contract for service is used to describe a business relationship where a person agrees to perform a specific job in return for payment.  Someone who does a job under a contract for service (often called an independent operator) is not a worker under the Act and is not automatically insured or entitled to benefits. 

For more information, please see Organizational Test for Workers.   

If there is any doubt about your employment status, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) will decide if you are a worker.  If you are unsure, you should speak with a qualified representative about your work situation.  If you have applied to the WSIB for benefits and been advised that you are not a worker, you can appeal that decision. 

What is a “covered business or industry”?

The Act contains lists of types of industries and these lists are called Schedule 1 and Schedule 2.  A worker employed in an industry or business listed in Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 of the Act is automatically covered. 

Schedule 1 Industries include (but are not limited to):  mining and related industries; manufacturing; transportation and storage; retail and wholesale trades; and construction. 

A variety of service industries are covered by the Act, including temporary agencies, hospitality and full-time domestic workers.  

Schedule 2 Industries include (but are not limited to):  provincial governments; railways; and telephone companies licensed by the federal government.  Although municipal governments are listed in Schedule 2, some have opted to become Schedule 1 employers. 

Some employers can make an application to the WSIB to be treated like a covered industry.  “By application” industries include (but are not limited to):  financial institutions; health care practitioner practices; trade unions; private day cares; and travel agencies. 

If you are not sure whether your employer is covered by the Act, you can look at the complete list of Schedules found at the end of Ontario Regulation 175/98.  You can also call the WSIB and ask if your employer is covered. 

Important: If your employer should be paying coverage for its workers, but does not have an account with the WSIB or has not been paying premiums, you still have rights to benefits and services. 

Who is not covered by the Act?

The Act specifically does not cover certain workers. These include: 

  • persons employed casually by an employer to do work other than for the purposes of the employer’s industry (for example, if you are hired on a very irregular basis to mow the lawn of a factory). 
  • outworkers, that is, persons to whom work is given to be done in their own home or on other premises not under the control of the person who gave out the work  (for example, you are provided with beads, etc., which you assemble in your home and sell to a jewellery shop). 

Who is covered in the construction industry?

Employees of construction related firms are covered by the Act and can claim benefits and services from the WSIB if they meet the definition of a “worker” described above.  

In addition, as of January 1, 2013, the following four categories of people who work in the construction industry are also considered “workers” under the Act: 

  • independent operators
  • sole proprietors
  • partners in partnerships
  • executive officers in corporations 

People in these four categories are “deemed workers” for the purposes of the Act, and can claim benefits from the WSIB if they get injured at work.    

At the same time, they are also “deemed employers,” even if they do not hire another worker. This means that they are subject to registration and reporting obligations under the Act, unless they fall within a few, limited exemptions. For advice about the obligations of employers, please contact the Office of the Employer Adviser at 1-800-387-0744 (toll free), (416) 327-0020 (Toronto) or visit their website

What is optional insurance?

Certain people who are not automatically covered by the Act can apply for “optional insurance” coverage.  If the WSIB accepts their application, they are considered deemed workers.  The following categories of people who work in an industry other than construction can apply for optional insurance: 

  • independent operators
  • sole proprietors
  • partners in partnerships
  • executive officers in corporations 

For more information, see Optional Insurance.  

Important Information

This publication contains general information only. It is not legal advice about a particular situation and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified representative. This publication was last updated on the revision date listed below.

January 1, 2013