Volunteer Forces


Members of municipal volunteer fire brigades, volunteer ambulance brigades, and auxiliary members of a police force generally operate under the authority of a municipality. Members of these forces are workers under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997 (WSIA), and the WSIB considers the employer of these volunteer workers to be one of the following:

  • a municipal corporation
  • a public utilities commission or any other commission or any board (other than a hospital board) that manages the brigade for a municipal corporation
  • any other person that manages the volunteer ambulance brigade for a municipal corporation
  • the board of trustees of a police village, or
  • a police force.

A hospital may be the deemed employer of a volunteer ambulance brigade or service.

The WSIB deems the following as employers of volunteer forces in territories with no municipal organizations:

  • for volunteer ambulance services and first response teams, the delivery agent designated by Order of the Minister of Health and Long-term Care
  • for volunteer firefighters, the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services through the Office of the Fire Marshal, and
  • for auxiliary police, the police force.

If an Indian Band Council with a volunteer force obtains Schedule 1 coverage for all council operations, the Band Council is deemed the employer of the force.

Selected earnings for coverage

Every year, Schedule 1 employers must give the WSIB a statement setting out the total wages earned during the preceding year by all workers, and such other information as the WSIB may request.

The statement by a deemed employer of a municipal volunteer fire brigade or a volunteer ambulance brigade or of auxiliary members of a police force must set out the number of members of the brigade or the number of auxiliary members and the amount of their earnings, fixed by the deemed employer, to be attributed to each member for the purposes of wage loss benefits under the insurance plan.

The amount of earnings selected by the deemed employer must be the same for each member of the volunteer force. The amount selected cannot be greater than the maximum average earnings set annually by the WSIB.

The selected amount must be at least half the annual maximum average earnings. If a deemed employer has more than one type of volunteer force, the employer selects an annual amount of earnings for each force.

Accident costs

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


The purpose of this policy is to set out who the employer is for volunteer forces, when volunteers are covered, what the obligations of both the deemed and regular employer are, and the earnings used to calculate a volunteer's average earnings in the case of injury.



In this policy, volunteer force refers to:

  • volunteer ambulance brigades
  • volunteer ambulance services
  • municipal volunteer fire brigades
  • municipal volunteer firefighters
  • first response teams, and
  • auxiliary police forces.

Likewise, volunteer refers to an individual member of any of the above.

Full-time and part-time firefighters

The WSIB considers firefighters to be full-time or part-time with a municipality when they meet the following criteria:

  • they are salaried workers of the municipality
  • they are regularly employed as firefighters
  • they must respond to all calls during their scheduled shift, and
  • they may be organized under Part IX of the Fire Protection and Prevention Act1997 (FPPA), which sets out the employment and labour relations regime for firefighters.

Volunteer firefighters

The WSIB considers firefighters to be volunteer firefighters when they meet the following criteria:

  • they provide fire protection services either voluntarily or for a nominal consideration, honorarium, training or activity allowance
  • they are not required to respond to every call (i.e., normally respond to emergency calls at their own discretion)
  • they are excluded from the definition of "firefighter" under Part IX of the FPPA, and
  • they may be represented by a bargaining agent certified under the Labour Relations Act, 1995.

Membership in municipal volunteer brigades

The chief of the fire department, or a person authorized to do so by the entity responsible for the brigade, must approve a volunteer's membership in a municipal volunteer fire brigade.

Rules for coverage

To determine whether a personal injury by accident occurred in the course of a volunteer’s employment, the criteria of placetime, and activity as outlined in 15-02-02, Accident in the Course of Employment are considered.

Volunteers are also covered under this policy and considered to be in the course of employment when responding to an emergency call or alarm from their home, or from their regular employment, whether they are:

  • travelling to the emergency or to the local emergency centre, see 15-03-05, Travelling
  • carrying out their duties at the emergency, or
  • returning to the emergency centre or home after the emergency call or alarm, using the most direct or uninterrupted route.

See 12-04-03, Emergency Workers for more information about individuals who are not members of a volunteer force, but who are summoned in an emergency situation.

Additional coverage rules for volunteer firefighters

Volunteer firefighters are also covered while:

  • carrying out fire protection services as defined in the FPPA
  • attending training programs required as a condition of employment, and/or
  • participating in fire department training activities.

If required to travel away from the deemed employer’s premises, volunteer firefighters may be covered if the criteria in 15-03-05, Travelling are met.

Regular employer's premises

Volunteers responding to, or intervening in an emergency situation:

  • at the regular employer’s premises, and
  • during the course of their regular employment

are considered to be in the employ of the regular employer, and are not covered by this policy.

Schedule 1 deemed employers

The selected amount is also the amount used to calculate the deemed employer’s insurable earnings, subject to the maximum for insurable earnings. In years where the maximum insurable earnings and maximum average earnings are different: 

  • the reportable insurable earnings, and associated premium calculation, are subject to the maximum insurable earnings, not the maximum average earnings, and
  • wage loss benefit calculations are subject to the maximum average earnings.

For the calculation of insurable earnings by Schedule 1 deemed employers, see 14-02-11, Insurable Earnings - Volunteer Forces.

Changes to the selected amount

The deemed employer may change the selected amount for its volunteer forces at any time by notifying the WSIB in writing. For benefit purposes, the change is effective the date the written notice is received by the WSIB. For the purpose of insurable earnings, the higher amount selected is used to calculate premiums retroactive to the beginning of the year, subject to the maximum for insurable earnings.

Schedule 2 deemed employers

Schedule 2 employers are individually liable for the costs of work-related injuries and diseases to their workers. Deemed Schedule 2 employers do not pay premiums based on the amount of earnings selected for their volunteer forces. However, the WSIB informs deemed employers in Schedule 2 when a change is made in the maximum average earnings.

Recording selected amount of earnings

Each year, the Schedule 2 deemed employer records, in writing, the amount of earnings it has selected for each volunteer force. If a work-related injury or disease occurs, the Schedule 2 deemed employer submits the written amount of earnings selected along with the Employer's Report of Injury Disease Form to the WSIB, see 15-01-02, Employers' Initial Accident-Reporting Obligations.

Changes in selected amount of earnings

Schedule 2 deemed employers may update the selected amount of earnings, in writing, at anytime throughout the year.

The updated amount of earnings must be maintained in their records.

Who submits the accident report form?

If a volunteer 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

The current selected amount requested by the deemed employer—not the actual earnings in regular employment - is used to calculate the volunteer's net average earnings in case of injury. Other earnings are not considered in the calculation.

Regular employer's obligations

If a volunteer is the worker 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 January 1, 2021, for all accidents.

Document History

This document replaces 12-04-02 dated January 2, 2015.

This document was previously published as:
12-04-02 dated January 2, 2014
12-04-02 dated June 1, 2006
12-04-02 dated January 3, 2006
12-04-02 dated June 1, 2005
12-04-02 dated October 12, 2004
12-04-02 dated July 19, 2004
12-04-02 dated November 15, 2002
12-04-02 dated May 23, 2000
12-04-02 dated June 15, 1999
4.4 dated January 1, 1998.


Legislative Authority

Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997, as amended
Sections 2(1), 13(1), 25(3.1), 40(4.1), 41(17), 54, 70, 78(1) and (3)

Workers’ Compensation Act, R.S.O. 1990, as amended
Sections 1(1), 1(4), 4(1), 7(6) and (7), 38, 54(17) and (18), 109(1) 


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