Canada: My Accountant Says I Should Have Registered With WSIB TEN Years Ago! Now What Do I Do?

Last Updated: February 27 2014
Article by Jack B. Siegel

A surprisingly common event in the practice of workers' compensation law is the frantic, sometimes even panicked email or phone call from a client, potential client, or the lawyer or accountant of such a business. The pattern is generally the same.

"We have been in business for X years. Nobody ever told us before that we had to register for workers' compensation, but now so and so is telling me that we have a big problem because we didn't. If this is compulsory, why doesn't somebody tell you that at the beginning?"

And therein lies the heart of the question. While workers' compensation coverage or, more technically, registration with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, is required for most Ontario employers, it is certainly not required for all of them, and the means of knowing which category a business falls into are not well known. As a result, as new businesses start up, it is all too frequent an occurrence that the question of registration with the WSIB never arises.

In order to understand registration obligations, it is necessary first to take a small step back and look at the overall structure of WSIB coverage in Ontario. Since the inception of the worker's compensation system 100 years ago, Ontario employers have essentially fallen into one of three categories.

The first and by far the largest of these categories is Schedule 1. These employers include most manufacturing, sales, distribution, service and construction activities, but by no means all of them. All Schedule 1 employers in Ontario are required to register with the WSIB effective on the day that they first employ workers, and to pay premiums based on a percentage of payroll, roughly ranging from 0.2% to 18.3%, based on anticipated injury rates in a given business activity.

Schedule 2 employers, on the other hand, do not pay premiums but are instead directly responsible to reimburse to the WSIB the cost of all claims paid, plus an administrative surcharge in excess of 22%. Employers in this category tend to be larger and more established on the whole, and include municipalities and school boards, railways, shipping companies and airlines. Registration for them is not much of an issue; if someone gets hurt, the WSIB will make sure they get its bill.

The balance of employers in Ontario categorized into neither Schedule is not required to provide Worker's Compensation coverage to their employees. There is no particular pattern by which to identify them; they include such diverse operations as golf courses, photography studios, funeral homes, dental offices and summer camps.

In order to determine the categorization of the business with any level of certainty, the Schedules, which are published as part of a regulation under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, tend not to be sufficiently specific, and recourse really must be had to the Employer Classification Manual published by the WSIB, and available on its website ( This manual is rather large, with a single page description of each business activity that the WSIB can conceive of, and a simple line indicating whether it is compulsorily covered under either Schedule, or the phrase, "By application (non-covered)," meaning that registration and coverage are not required, but available as an option.

Certainly, some of the inquiries that begin as pronouncements of doom from an accountant, lawyer or other advisor have rapid and happy endings when a review of that manual produces a clear categorization of the business as one of optional coverage.

But what about the many inquiries that come from employers that are, in fact, classified under Schedule 1? They are potentially liable for retroactive premium assessments plus penalties plus interest against delinquent employers going back five, and in some cases more years, and the WSIB will bring the full weight of its enforcement powers to bear upon such an employer that it discovers on its own.  Prosecutions and fines are a distinct possibility. To that end, the Board draws information from its own investigatory activities, information exchanges with the Canada Revenue Agency and other government authorities, anonymous tips, and reports of worker injuries by individuals whose employers are unknown to the Board.

But the reality is that it remains quite possible for an employer to fly under the radar, deliberately or otherwise, for an extended period of time. WSIB has recently revised its policy for dealing with such employers who self-identify and register with the Board PRIOR to being detected through any of the Board's activities described above.

Where an employer steps forward and voluntarily discloses non-compliance, the WSIB will apply its Voluntary Registration policy and waive its rights to levy penalties and interest, or to lay charges. While the employer will be assessed retroactively for premiums, that assessment will be limited to the 12 months prior to the date that it in fact registers.

The lesson here is twofold. First, when the possibility is initially raised that there might be noncompliance, the initial step is always to determine whether registration is mandatory in the first place. If it was not, the problem vanishes. If, however, the employer was required to register, it should move quickly to place itself within the Voluntary Registration policy and the amnesty that it provides, rather than risking detection at the WSIB's initiative and the expensive liabilities that may follow from that.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Jack B. Siegel
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.