July 15, 2014
On January 1, 2013, the Ontario Government passed a law that makes it mandatory for almost everyone in the Ontario construction industry to have Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) coverage. As a landscaper, this could include you.

For over a year now, nearly everyone working in construction in Ontario has been required to register with the WSIB, pay WSIB premiums, and have a valid WSIB clearance number in place before doing construction work.  

The year 2013 was treated as an education year. Even though contractors were required to be registered, the new legislation wasn’t enforced. Now, in 2014, if you qualify under the law’s Mandatory Coverage rules and you’re doing construction work without WSIB coverage, you, and whoever hires you, will face penalties and significant fines.

The new mandatory coverage rules apply to landscapers who do what the WSIB refers to as Class G construction work, which includes work like:  
  • Fence and deck installation, swimming pool installation, curb and sidewalk construction, golf course, park or sports fields construction
  • Finishing of concrete slabs for patios, private walkways and driveways
  • Landscape lighting
  • Irrigation/sprinklers
If you hire workers, you’re likely already registered and are paying premiums for coverage for them. Under Mandatory Coverage rules, sole proprietors, partners in partnerships and executive officers now need to be covered, too.

If you’re an Independent Operator and don’t have any employees, you need to register your business, and report and pay premiums on your earnings in exchange for WSIB coverage.

Before the work starts, get the clearance number. A clearance number is proof that you are registered with the WSIB, and that your account is in good standing — and you need one for the full length of each construction job you do. Your client will need to see your clearance number before you start work; without it, you both face possible fines and penalties.

Clearance numbers are issued for free, and you can request, or verify them, 24/7 online or with your mobile device at www.wsib.on.ca.

If your business works in home renovations 100 per cent of the time, you do not need to register for WSIB coverage for owners, partners, or executive officers. For work to qualify as home renovation, you must be hired and paid by the home’s occupant, or a member of their family. Please note though, that even if you qualify for the home renovation exemption, you still need WSIB coverage for any employees you may have.  

There is also an exemption and a special, lower rate that can be applied for if your business has more than one partner or executive officer, provided they don’t do any construction work. You can find more information, as well as links to the application forms at www.wsib.on.ca.