Are The Painters Really Insured?

Is your Painter covered under WSIB? With new regulations coming into effect in Ontario, there is hopefully a better chance that your painter is protected by WSIB.

There are currently many variables when it comes to painters. You have the sole proprietor, who may work by him/her self, perhaps have a helper or two. The contractor who hires sub-contractors and sends them out to do the work. There’s the handyman who will come and paint a room and there is the painting contractor who has employees on payroll.

Workplace Safety InsuranceIt is Mandatory

Regardless of who you choose to do any painting, whether they are coming into your home to paint, or to your place of work, you want to be sure they are covered under WSIB. The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board. Why you ask? First of all it is mandatory in the industry. The new rules went into effect on January 1st 2013. The Ontario Government changed the law to expand coverage in the construction sector, to those who carry on a business in construction, including independent operators, sole proprietors, partners in partnerships and executive officers in corporations. It is sad that some painting contractors along with other contractors in the renovation market do their utmost to avoid paying any WSIB premiums, mainly by doing cash projects, while affecting others who factor in these costs when bidding on the same project. This is even the case with experienced painters who never really had a real painting job for years, or “in the books” as it is referred in the industry. There’s no record of work, no contract, no warranty, just another project completed and a pocket full of cash.

Unsafe Working ConditionUnfair Reality

Is this fair that some painters work for cash? No, it is clearly not. Yet, it appears that cash deals continue to be quite common in the industry. When doing painting estimates, we are often asked “Can we get a better deal if we pay cash?” A lot of people ask this question to try and avoid paying the taxes. Understandable, no-one likes paying taxes. Unfortunately, for those who do go by the book, the taxes and WSIB are all inter-connected. For our painting services we collect HST. This is on the invoice and therefore shows and is recorded as income. Our employees get paid through that income. They log into the job each day through Tsheets, which keeps track of all projects and hours worked. Tsheets then integrates with QuickBooks that creates payroll for our employees. At the end of each month an employee earnings report is pulled up from QuickBooks and a calculation of 7.25% of the gross payroll is remitted to WSIB. This includes all earnings, vacation pays, stat holiday payouts and any bonuses earned. Remittances are due at the end of the month following the month they were earned. So the answer to the cash deal question would be a no for us. Sure you can pay, by cash, by cheque, or by credit card, whichever you prefer, but with the above costs within.

Cheap Painters means Risky Business

We often hear the “well I got a quote from someone else who will do it for cash, I think I’ll just go with them instead.” Is safety not a concern? Is money the only thing that is important here? The numbers are telling us that consumers research a lot and we expect that they check the painters reviews and reputation. Should the customer not expect the contractor to have all necessary safety certifications and coverages?

I was recently estimating for a Painting job in Vaughan, just North of toronto. The prospective client initially asked for a “cash price”, then informed me that they had awarded the job to someone else. The amount they were quoted made no sense, if this was a legitimate deal. It was less than half of our quote. I see only red flags, something is missing here! Sure, there are companies with less overhead(or so they think) and they will be less expensive. The actual scope of work that was quoted in this particular project, as well as the heights that were involved, made it very suspicious. This could only be a cash deal, no two ways about it. I only hope that the individual working on the scaffolding in the stairway took all the necessary safety precautions.

Ignoring Safety RegulationsWorker Safety

Taking safety seriously only means that you value your own life and the life of your fellow worker. Should there even be any questions there? Accidents in the workplace are at staggering numbers. Taking steps towards minimizing these numbers can help to keep your individual premium at a lower rate. There are fall arrest, ladder safety and other safety programs available. First point of anyone’s safety is if you don’t feel comfortable, you don’t do it! I recall driving by a home a few years ago where some exterior painting was being done. I looked up to see a young girl, clinging to a wall for dear life, while attempting to paint with the other hand. She looked petrified! Why then was she working in an unsafe situation? Why was nobody paying attention? This is so common and scary, don’t you think? You see plenty of roof’s being done in the summertime, with the guys running around on a slanted roof, shirts off, catching a nice tan, no harness, no protection whatsoever. Could that be why WSIB premium rates for roofers are around 14%?

Should all contractors not be on the same page, where safety is concerned, play by the rules so we can all play fair?
WSIB is not the enemy here, they exist for a reason.


2 thoughts on “Are They Really Insured?”

  1. “First of all it is mandatory in the industry.”

    It is mandatory for those working for a contractor. The clear exception to WSIB mandatory enrollment are those individual handymen and painters etc that work for the occupant of the home. If they are working for a contractor working for the owner, they need it. If they are working for a realtor they need it. They DO NOT need it, nor do they need to be adding 7.5% to the customer’s bill if they are performing the work for a person living in the home.

    • “if they are performing the work for a person living in the home”
      Sure if it means means that they do sidejobs and they are individuals employed by different individuals each time. But I think most people when they do that, they don’t consider the customer their employer. They are or they think or they want to be self-employed.
      So this does not work if you are paid as a company.
      Besides, it’s to the benefit of the customer to hire a WSIB insured company. A simple injury (real or otherwise) by someone working in a home could cost a homeowner tens of thousands in lost wages etc. It’s a very risky proposition. Injuries do happen to working people unfortunately, we even have experienced some.


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