Emergency Workers


An authority who summons a person to assist in controlling or extinguishing a fire is deemed the person's employer.

The Crown is deemed the employer of a person who assists:

  • in a search and rescue operation at the request of, and under the direction of, a member of the Ontario Provincial Police, or
  • in connection with an emergency declared by the Lieutenant Governor in Council or the Premier under section 7.0.1 of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.

The municipality is deemed the employer of a person who assists in conjunction with an emergency declared to exist by the head of a municipal council.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) is deemed the employer of a person who assists in connection with a fire in a designated fire region.

The person assisting in the emergencies listed above is deemed a worker of the relevant employer.

In case of injury, an emergency worker's average earnings are the actual earnings from regular employment. If the worker has no such earnings, the WSIB fixes the amount of earnings for the purposes of the insurance plan.

Accident costs resulting from injuries covered under this policy are the responsibility of the authority deemed to be the employer.


The purpose of this policy is to set out who the employer is when a person is summoned to fight a fire, what the obligations of both the deemed and regular employer are, and the earnings used to calculate an emergency worker’s average earnings in the case.


Summoning authority for fires

For fires in designated fire regions, the summoning authority is the MNRF acting in accordance with the Forest Fires Prevention Act (FFPA) either directly or through:

  • the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • a fire warden, or
  • a special officer appointed by the Minister.

The summons can be explicit, as in a written instruction or an oral command; or it may be implied, as in the case of workers of a logging company responding to a fire in accordance with a special agreement between the employer and the MNRF.

Presumptions and exceptions

Unless a volunteer force, see 12-04-02, Volunteer Forces, or private-sector employer contracted by the MNRF is involved, the WSIB can presume in every case that a person fighting fires in a designated fire region did so under the authority of an MNRF summons. This policy does not apply to private-sector firefighting employers and their workers who have contracted to work for the MNRF.

For example, special agreements exist between logging companies and the MNRF that allow employees of a logging company fighting fires to be deemed emergency workers and to be covered under this policy. These agreements may say that, if company employees respond of their own accord without MNRF involvement, their activity is presumed to be performed because of an MNRF summons.

The MNRF may rebut the WSIB's presumption that the Ministry is the deemed employer if it shows that the FFPA did not apply to the specific situation. The FFPA does not apply if:

  • a person is involved in fighting fires in an area of the province not designated as a fire region (such as southwestern Ontario), or
  • no special agreement exists between the MNRF and an employer specifying that its employees may respond of their own accord under the authority of the FFPA.

Earnings and premiums

Emergency workers receive no wages from their deemed employer. However, wages paid to an emergency worker by a regular employer covered under Schedule 1 for the period when the worker is covered by this policy are not considered insurable earnings.

For the purposes of calculating premiums, Schedule 1 employers, including individuals with optional insurance, may deduct insurable earnings resulting from any wages paid while the worker is addressing the emergency.

Who submits the accident report form?

If an emergency worker is injured, the deemed employer submits the accident report form to the WSIB, see 15-01-02, Employers' Initial Accident-Reporting Obligations.

Average earnings in case of injury

In the case of injury, the WSIB calculates an emergency worker's average earnings based on the worker's actual earnings in regular employment at the time of the accident, see 18-02-02, Determining Short-Term Average Earnings.

An emergency worker's earnings with an employer not covered under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (WSIA) are included in the calculation of the worker's actual earnings.

The WSIB includes earnings from self-employment only if the emergency worker had obtained optional insurance under the WSIA before the injury.

If, at the time of injury:

  • the emergency worker's earnings are only from self-employment for which the worker has not purchased optional insurance under the WSIA before the injury, or
  • the emergency worker has no actual earnings (i.e., unemployed and receiving EI or social assistance benefits),

the worker's average earnings are set at the Average Industrial Wage for Ontario which is published by Statistics Canada and available on July 1 of the year preceding the injury. 

Regular employer's obligations

If an emergency worker is the employee of a regular employer covered under the WSIA and receives benefits under this policy, the regular employer is responsible for complying with the obligations related to

The deemed employer, however, reimburses the regular employer for the costs of meeting these obligations.

Application date

This policy applies to all decisions made on or after March 1, 2021, for all accidents.

Document history

This document replaces 12-04-03 dated February 15, 2013.

This document was previously published as:
12-04-03 dated January 3, 2007
12-04-03 dated October 12, 2004
12-04-03 dated May 23, 2000
12-04-03 dated June 15, 1999
4.5 dated January 1, 1998
01-02-08 dated July 22, 1993*
*document was replaced by 12-04-03 dated October 12, 2004.


Legislative authority

Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, as amended
Sections 2(1), 12, 13(1), 25(3), 40(4), 41(16), 53(5), 54(2), 71


#4, March 24, 2021, Page 585