FAQs about claims and COVID-19

Updated: July12, 2021

See our main COVID-19 page.

You can also visit our pages for FAQs for health care providers and more FAQs for business accounts.

COVID-19 claims and coverage

I think I contracted coronavirus (COVID-19) at work. Should I file a claim? 

While the nature of some people’s work may put them at greater risk of contracting the virus, for example those treating someone with COVID-19, any claims received by the WSIB will need to be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the facts and circumstances. 

  • If you contracted COVID-19 while at work (you have a diagnosis or symptoms of COVID-19),  you should tell your employer about your illness and any medical treatment you received right away, and you may file a claim to determine if you are eligible for WSIB coverage.  
  • If you believe you were exposed to COVID-19 while at work, but you are not ill at this time (you do not have a diagnosis or symptoms of COVID-19), please do not file a claim. Instead, you can report an exposure incident. Reporting your exposure is voluntary, but if you become ill in the future we'll be able to process your claim faster.

What do I do if my employer tells me not to report my COVID-19 diagnosis or symptoms to the WSIB?

It is against the law for your employer to discourage you from reporting a workplace injury or illness to the WSIB, or to influence you to withdraw or abandon your claim.

If you suspect anyone (person, business, representatives, supplier or health care practitioner) is not acting honestly regarding a potential or ongoing WSIB case, we have multiple ways you can contact us. For more information visit wsib.ca/reportfraud.

I filed a claim for COVID-19. How long will it take to get a decision on my claim? 

We have a dedicated team of adjudicators and nurse consultants working as quickly as possible to gather any information required and review each claim so that people can access the benefits and services they may be entitled to.  

Because we look at each of these claims on a case-by-case basis, the time to a decision will be different in each claim, but we are contacting people within two to five days of a COVID-19-related claim being filed to gather required exposure, employment, medical and other relevant information to help us make decisions.
 

How will the WSIB determine if a COVID-19 claim will be allowed?

Multiple potential sources of COVID-19 may now exist in the community, at home and outside of work, creating challenges in establishing work-relatedness when adjudicating claims.   

For a COVID-19 claim to be allowed, evidence must show that the person’s risk of contracting the disease through their employment is greater than the risk to which the public at large is exposed and that work significantly contributed to the person’s illness. 

To determine the work-relatedness of COVID-19 claims, the WSIB will look at details such as the person’s employment activities, their symptoms and whether they have a diagnosis of COVID-19.  

While the nature of some people's work may put them at greater risk of contracting the virus, for example those treating someone with COVID-19, this is a constantly evolving situation and any claims received by the WSIB will need to be adjudicated on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the facts and circumstances. 

Please note: The WSIB does not provide coverage for people who are symptom-free without a COVID-19 diagnosis, even when quarantined or sent home on a precautionary basis. However, should someone who is symptom-free develop symptoms or illness while on quarantine, they may be eligible for WSIB coverage.

Read more about how we make decisions about COVID-19 claims (PDF).

Does the WSIB cover people for a quarantine period?

No, the WSIB does not provide coverage for people who are symptom-free and do not have a COVID-19 diagnosis, even when quarantined, self-isolating or sent home on a precautionary basis.

I’m afraid to go to work, what should I do?

If you have concerns about safety in your workplace, we suggest you speak to your employer.

You can get the latest information on COVID-19 from the following websites:

I am now working from home. If I get injured while working at home am I covered?

You and your employer have the same rights and responsibilities in the event of a workplace injury or illness whether you are working from home or offsite or in your regular workplace. If you believe your injury is work-related you should file a claim. The decision about whether an injury or illness is work-related can only be made by the WSIB. Every decision will take into consideration the unique facts and circumstances. You can read more about the criteria we consider around the place, time and activity of an injury in our policy about accidents in the course of employment

You can learn more about injury and illness prevention on the province’s website. You can also see some resources around safe office work.

I want to volunteer to help during the COVID emergency, am I covered by the WSIB?

Volunteers are not generally covered by the WSIB unless requested to assist by the provincial government or by a municipality during a declared emergency. They are considered emergency workers. You can see more in the policy about emergency workers to see who may be considered an emergency worker and how their wage-loss benefits would calculated if they experienced a workplace injury or illness.

I want to help during the COVID emergency and have been offered work with an employer that needs extra help as a result of COVID-19. Am I covered by the WSIB if an injury or illness occurs while I am working there?

Most employers in Ontario are required to have WSIB coverage. Some employers are not required to have coverage, but may apply for coverage.

You can search our Employer Classification Manual to find out the coverage status of an employer’s business activity. If coverage is not mandatory, you can contact the Employer Service Centre to find out if an employer has optional insurance by calling 416-344-1000 or toll free 1-800-387-0750.
 
If an employer is required to have coverage or has had a request for coverage approved by the WSIB, you will be covered in the case of workplace-related injury or illness.

Am I covered by the WSIB if I am asked to volunteer during the emergency?

When responding to a request by the provincial or municipal government to assist during the emergency, volunteers are covered for any workplace-related injuries or illnesses that they may experience.

If I am asked to volunteer and experience a workplace injury or illness and my claim is allowed, would I be entitled to loss-of-earnings (LOE) benefits? How would they be calculated?

People who suffer a workplace injury or illness while volunteering during an emergency may be entitled to loss-of-earnings benefits. We would calculate an emergency worker's wage replacement based on their actual earnings from their pre-emergency job. You can read our policy to learn how we determine short-term average earnings.

I had a reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine. Can I get WSIB benefits/file a claim?

If you received a vaccine as a compulsory part of your employment and experienced an adverse reaction, you may be eligible for benefits. 

Expected reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine, per public health guidance, may include fever, chills, pain at the injection site, fatigue and headaches which should resolve on their own in a few days. These do not generally constitute an adverse reaction for the purposes of entitlement to WSIB benefits. An adverse reaction is a serious, unexpected reaction to a vaccine.  

When determining whether a reaction to a COVID-19 vaccination is work-related, the WSIB considers:

1.    Whether the vaccination was a compulsory part of your employment 

  • A vaccination will generally be a compulsory part of your employment if your employer has a rule or policy that requires employees to be vaccinated or if your employer uses some element of coercion for vaccination (e.g. threat of termination of employment, job changes or penalties). 

2.    Whether the reaction is adverse, e.g. serious and unexpected, such as the types of events that should be reported to a local public health unit

  • If the reaction requires medical treatment beyond first aid and/or requires your absence from work for more than a few days, this indicates that the reaction – in its severity or duration – has likely gone beyond the expected reaction from vaccination.

If you received a COVID-19 vaccine as a compulsory part of your employment and experienced an adverse reaction, you should report this to your employer and file a claim so the WSIB can determine if you are eligible for benefits. 

What is considered an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine?

An adverse reaction is a serious unexpected reaction to a vaccine. These are the types of events that should be reported to a local public health unit

For example, if the reaction requires medical treatment beyond first aid and/or requires absence from work for more than a few days. This indicates the reaction – in its severity and/or duration – has gone beyond the common mild expected reactions from immunization (fever, chills, pain at the injection site, fatigue and headaches which should resolve on their own in a few days).

Reporting obligations for businesses

My employee was tested for COVID-19. Is this considered receiving health care for the purposes of reporting to the WSIB?

Yes. If an employee has had a COVID-19 test, the WSIB considers that they have received health care.

  • If the employee tests positive for COVID-19 and tells you that they believe they contracted COVID-19 in the workplace, you are required to report the illness to the WSIB, even if you feel that the employee did not contract it at work.
  • If the employee tests negative for COVID-19, you are not required to report the illness to the WSIB.
     

My employee contracted COVID-19, but I don’t know if they contracted it at work. Do I have to report the illness to the WSIB?

Yes. If an employee has tested positive for COVID-19 and tells you that they believe they contracted COVID-19 in the workplace, you are required to report the illness to the WSIB, even if you feel that the employee did not contract it at work.

You also have an obligation to report an employee’s COVID-19 (they have a diagnosis/positive test or symptoms of COVID-19) when you have reason to believe there was a potential workplace exposure. For example:

  • other employees in the workplace have tested positive for COVID-19; or
  • there was a known or suspected contact source for COVID-19 from whom the employee could have contracted it

Additionally, you are required to report the illness if the WSIB has informed you that a claim has been set up based on a

 

or a

 

If you are unsure about whether there is an obligation to report, we encourage you to report in the normal way. It is the WSIB’s responsibility to determine the work-relatedness of claims and possible work-related claims should always be reported. 

We adjudicate COVID-19 claims on a case-by-case basis, taking into consideration the facts and circumstances, to determine if they are work-related and if the person is eligible for WSIB benefits. The review we undertake in each claim is based on submissions from the person with an injury or illness and their employer, so it is very important that when completing the Form 7 you fill in all sections. This will allow us to quickly review and make decisions in these cases.

Read more about how we make decisions about COVID-19 claims (PDF), 

My employee says they’ve been injured while working from home. Do I need to report it to the WSIB?

Your responsibilities and obligations as an employer in the event a workplace injury or illness are the same for people who work from home or offsite as they are for people who work in your regular workplace. If you are not sure if an injury is work-related, you should report it as the decision about whether an injury or illness is work-related can only be made by the WSIB. Every decision will take into consideration the unique facts and circumstances. You can read more about the criteria we consider around the place, time and activity of an injury in our policy about accidents in the course of employment

You can learn more about injury and illness prevention on the province’s website. You can also see some resources around safe office work
 
 

Do I have to report a claim if my employee was exposed to COVID-19 while at work, but they are not ill at this time?

If someone does not have a diagnosis or symptoms of COVID-19, you are not required to report the illness/file a Form 7 and they should not file a claim. 

Instead, they may choose to report an exposure incident through our Program for Exposure Incident Reporting (PEIR) or Construction Exposure Incident Reporting (CEIR) program (specifically for the construction sector). 

These are voluntary reporting programs and they will be assigned an incident number. If someone becomes ill after reporting an exposure incident, we'll be able to process their claim faster. 

Does the usual three-day time limit for employers to report an injury or illness still apply during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes. We expect businesses to make all reasonable efforts to report any injuries or illnesses within the expected timelines. If you are not able to report within the three-day time limit, please call us to explain why you are not able to meet the usual time limit. If you have a reasonable explanation, we may extend these time limits.

Will any allowed COVID-19-related claims for my employees increase my 2020 or 2021 premium rates?

No. Costs associated with COVID-19 related claims will not be allocated at an employer or class level. Instead, they will be allocated on a Schedule-wide basis and there will be no change in premium rates for 2020 or 2021. Premium rate stability will help Ontario businesses continue to adjust to the ongoing pandemic, while protecting coverage for the people we serve. 

Visit our 2021 premium rates page for more information on our rate-setting process. 

My submitted COVID-19 claims appear on my account statements, reports and Compass. Are the costs associated with these claims included in my rates? 

No, costs associated with COVID-19 related claims are not allocated at an employer or class level. Instead, they are allocated on a schedule-wide basis and your individual claims will not be applied in the calculation of your rates. 

The claims will still appear on your accident cost statement and Workplace Injury Summary Reports for claims management, transparency and Canada Revenue Agency reporting purposes.

We’ve enhanced Compass to include a new filter that allows you to analyze and share your claim information with or without COVID-19 related claims. Visit our online services to analyze rates and past claims costs with Compass.

For further assistance with your account, please contact employeraccounts@wsib.on.ca or call 1-800-387-0750, Monday to Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Has the pandemic had an impact on return-to-work outcomes for non-COVID-19 claims?

While COVID-19 has had an impact on a small number of claims, the pandemic has not had any systemic impact on return-to-work outcomes for non-COVID-19 claims.

Despite the best planning, return-to-work and recovery efforts following a workplace injury or illness are always subject to potential unanticipated events. In every case, we work to minimize any disruptions. However, when they do occur we work with those involved to make necessary adjustments and accommodations. Our approach to return-to-work claims management during the pandemic has been no different than before.

We will continue to monitor return-to-work outcomes to determine if future action is necessary. If you have specific concerns, please contact us.

If the Ontario COVID-19 vaccination roll-out includes a vaccination clinic on one of my work sites, does this mean that any reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine experienced by an employee are work-related?

If an employer holds a vaccination clinic on their premises, this will not automatically lead to a determination that any reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine experienced by an employee is work-related. 

When determining whether a reaction to a COVID-19 vaccination is work-related, the WSIB considers:

1.    Whether the vaccination was a compulsory part of employment 

  • A vaccination will generally be a compulsory part of employment if the employer has a rule or policy that requires employees to be vaccinated or if the employer uses some element of coercion for vaccination (e.g. the threat of termination of employment, job changes or penalties). 

2.    Whether the reaction is adverse, e.g. serious and unexpected 

  • This would include the types of events that should be reported to a local public health unit, require medical treatment beyond first aid and have symptoms other than what might be considered normal side effects from a vaccine as defined by public health guidance (e.g. sore arm, feeling tired, fever) and/or require absence from work for more than a few days. 

My employee says they had a reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine and can’t come to work. Do I have to report the illness to the WSIB?

If an employee received a vaccine as a compulsory part of their employment - despite the location of the clinic - and you learn they experienced an adverse reaction that required medical treatment beyond first aid and/or required absence from work for more than a few days, you must report the injury or illness to the WSIB. 

Normal expected reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine, per public health guidance, may include fever, chills, pain at the injection site, fatigue and headaches which should resolve on their own in a few days. These do not generally constitute an adverse reaction for the purposes of entitlement to WSIB benefits and do not need to be reported if the vaccine was a compulsory part of their employment.

If you are unsure about whether you need to report, we encourage you to report in the normal way. It is the WSIB’s responsibility to determine the work-relatedness of claims. 

What is considered an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine?  

An adverse reaction is a serious unexpected reaction to a vaccine. These are the types of events that should be reported to a local public health unit

For example, if the reaction requires medical treatment beyond first aid and/or requires absence from work for more than a few days. This indicates the reaction – in its severity and/or duration – has gone beyond the common mild expected reactions from immunization (fever, chills, pain at the injection site, fatigue and headaches which should resolve on their own in a few days).

If my employee has an adverse reaction to a COVID-19 vaccine that is a compulsory for their employment, will the costs be charged against the employer? 

No. Costs associated with COVID-19 vaccination claims will not be allocated at an employer or class level. Instead, they will be allocated on a Schedule-wide basis. No incident would be shown against the employer’s record and there will be no change in premium rates.

Do you have a policy for adjudicating claims for adverse reactions to a COVID-19 vaccine?

In adjudicating claims related to adverse reactions from a COVID-19 vaccine, we are guided by our policy on Immunization Against Infectious Disease, which specifically provides for entitlement for adverse reactions to immunization where the immunization is a compulsory part of employment. 

Benefits during a temporary shutdown

I have been performing modified duties due to a workplace injury, but receiving full pay. Will the WSIB cover any pay I lose if my employer temporarily shutdown due to COVID-19?

No. If you were not receiving any wage-loss benefits at the time of the employer’s temporary shutdown, you won’t receive any new wage-loss benefits. If you were receiving any other benefits at the time of the shutdown, such as health care benefits, those will continue.

Will I continue to receive my WSIB benefits if my employer temporarily shuts down due to COVID-19?

Yes. We are continuing to pay wage-loss benefits and have ensured loss-of-earning benefits are up to date.

You will continue to receive the same benefits that you were receiving at the time of your employer’s temporary shutdown until you have recovered from your injury or illness or your employer reopens and has work that is safe and suitable for you.

You can read more about entitlement following temporary work disruptions and permanent work disruptions.

 

I am working part-time and receiving partial loss-of-earnings benefits from the WSIB. Will I continue to receive my WSIB benefits if my employer temporarily shuts down due to COVID-19?

Yes. We are continuing to pay wage-loss benefits and have ensured loss-of-earning benefits are up to date.

You will continue to receive the same benefits that you were receiving at the time of your employer’s temporary shutdown until you have recovered from your injury or illness or your employer reopens and has work that is safe and suitable for you.

If I am receiving WSIB benefits, am I eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)?

You may be eligible for CERB benefits, if you meet the eligibility criteria. Please see the Government of Canada website for more information.

Accessing services from the WSIB and health care providers

I need to meet with a WSIB staff member/at a WSIB office. Will the meeting still go ahead? 

To help protect people from the spread of COVID-19, our offices are closed to the public.  We are still meeting with people by phone or virtually. In some circumstances, we may visit your workplace or home. Our first priority is health and safety – for our employees and for the people we’re here to help. We have guidelines in place to assess when we can safely conduct a visit in person. We’ll talk to you first to make sure that the right health and safety precautions are in place. 

Also, you can upload most documentation with us at wsib.ca/upload to upload any claim-related forms, letters or documentation. It is taking longer than usual for the mail we receive to be processed and we are not accepting courier deliveries. Please use our online services or fax your documents to 1-888-313-7373.

I have an oral appeal hearing scheduled. Will it go ahead?

If you had an oral appeal hearing scheduled, an Appeals Coordinator will call you to arrange a hearing via teleconference, videoconference or a hearing in writing, or to postpone your appeal until we resume in-person oral hearings.

Can I still send my documents?

While our offices are closed, it is taking longer than usual for the mail we receive to be processed and we are not receiving courier deliveries. Our online services are the quickest way to send us information.

You can report an exposure, injury or illness online and visit wsib.ca/upload to upload claim-related forms, letters or documents.

To upload documents, take a picture of your document on your smartphone, scan your document or complete an online form. Go to wsib.ca/upload. Enter your name, claim number, and date of birth, then attach the photo or document. Once it’s submitted, the document is filed to the claim. You can upload documents including photos from any computer, tablet or smartphone 24/7.

If you are uploading a scanned copy or photo of a receipt, please keep the original receipt for your records.

If you don’t have a claim number, you can fax documents to 1-888-313-7373.

Please submit all direct deposit requests to directdeposit@wsib.on.ca. Learn more about our direct deposit services.

My health care provider has rescheduled or cancelled my appointment and it affects my ability to get treatment within the treatment timeline. What should I do?

Health care providers and associated facilities must abide by public health guidelines, including screening protocols. If your care is disrupted, the clinician will inform your adjudicator/case management team and include an estimated timeline and date, if possible, for the next appointment. Many providers have moved to providing virtual care through safe and secure platforms that can help continue your recovery while keeping you safe.

If you have an urgent need for health care, please contact your family doctor or 911 if it is an emergency.

Will I still be able to get my medications at the pharmacy for my workplace injury or illness?

Yes. Pharmacies have been identified as essential businesses and we are extending approved prescriptions to make sure that people will be able to access the medication they need.

I asked for a copy of my claim file, and I haven’t received it yet. Will I get it now that the WSIB offices are closed?

We are now sending claim files by secure email. If you have requested a copy of your claim file, we will be calling to you to get your email address and to get your permission to send your claim file electronically.

If you don't receive the email within one business day, you may need to:

  • add access@wsib.on.ca to your contact list
  • check your junk mail folder
  • speak to your IT department to change your "block sender" features in Outlook

My benefit cheque is late. What should I do? 

Due to Canada Post delays and restrictions to international mail delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, it may take longer than usual for you to receive benefit cheques and other mail from us. We thank you for your patience during this time, and ask that you allow for a few extra days before contacting us about a late or missing cheque. If you have a Canadian bank account, you may sign up for direct deposit, to help make sure you receive your benefits on time.  

Rules about time limits during the COVID-19 pandemic

Does the six-month time limit to file a claim for benefits after a workplace injury or illness still apply during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yes, the temporary suspension of the six-month time limit for injured or ill people to file a claim for benefits has now ended. 

This means that any time limits that would have expired between March 16, 2020 and September 13, 2020 are now back in effect.

The following two scenarios show how the suspension of this time limit would apply:

Scenario 1

You are injured at work on May 1, 2020. You would have six months from September 14, 2020 to file a claim. The deadline to file the claim would therefore be March 14, 2021.

Scenario 2

You are injured at work on September 29, 2019. The time limit for you to file a claim was set to expire on March 29, 2020. The six-month time limit would be paused on March 16, 2020 and re-started on September 14, 2020. Therefore, the new deadline to file a claim would be September 27, 2020.

I want to object to a decision about a WSIB claim – does the regular time limit apply?

Yes, you have six months from the date on your decision letter to object to a WSIB decision (or 30-day time limit for return-to-work decisions).

The following two scenarios show how the suspension of these time limits would apply:

Scenario 1
You received a letter denying your claim on April 3, 2020. If you object to this decision, you would have six months from September 14, 2020 to submit your intent to object. The deadline to object would therefore be March 14, 2021.

Scenario 2
You received a letter denying your claim on September 29, 2019. The time limit to object was set to expire on March 29, 2020. The six-month time limit was paused on March 16, 2020 and re-started on September 14, 2020. Therefore, the new deadline to object would be September 27, 2020.

Does the 10-day time limit to report a material change in circumstances still apply during the COVID-19 pandemic?

We expect employers and injured or ill people to make all reasonable efforts to report a material change within 10 days.