January 15, 2012
A number of questions have been raised about changes to Bill 119, which extends the scope of mandatory workers compensation insurance to include executive officers, partners, and independent operators.

Health and Safety Ontario has issued a statement on the issue: “In 2008, the Ontario Legislature passed an amendment to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act intended to make workers compensation coverage mandatory for independent operators in construction.

When does the amendment takes effect? The short answer is probably not in 2012. The amendment is still awaiting proclamation, and as stated in the amendment mandatory compensation coverage would come into effect a year following proclamation.

Who exactly is affected? The amendment appears to apply only to independent operators with no employees who perform “construction” work. Self-employed individuals who do contract work are not currently required to register with WSIB. An independent operator is defined as ‘a person who carries on an industry included in Schedule 1 or Schedule 2 and who does not employ any workers for that purpose.’

What constitutes construction? The Workplace Safety and Insurance Act defines construction as any industry listed in Class G of Schedule 1. Still unclear at this point is whether, for the purposes of this amendment, “construction” includes deck and fence installation and swimming pool installation or paving stone, retaining wall and concrete work. A landscape contractor may do some of this type of work as part of a landscape project.

“Note: Home renovation work to a private residence is exempt from the amendment, and by extension independent operators and sole proprietors who perform home renovation work.”

“Landscape Ontario and Workplace Safety and Prevention Services are continuing to work together to clarify exactly how the amendments may apply to our stakeholders,” says Sally Harvey CLT, CLP, manager of Education and Labour Development for Landscape Ontario.

For more information, read the amended Workplace Safety and Insurance Act online at http://bit.ly/ssBXHL, or access the amendments and background information at http://bit.ly/shwydV.