A basic primer about Workers’ Compensation, the WCB Alberta, and the theatre industry in Alberta.
What is Workers’ Compensation?
Workers’ Compensation is a disability insurance system that protects employers and workers from the impact of work-related injury or occupational disease. It compensates workers for lost income, health care and other costs related to their injury or illness. It also protects employers from being sued by their workers if they are injured as a result of their work. (Excerpted from page 32 of Theatre Alberta’s Safe Stages.)
What is the WCB?
The Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) Alberta is a non-profit corporation legislated to administer the workers’ compensation system for the province. Employers pay premiums to fund this no-fault system that provides compensation to workers for work-related injuries and occupational disease. (Excerpted from page 32 of Theatre Alberta’s Safe Stages.)
Does my theatre company have to provide WCB coverage?
Theatre companies operate in a compulsory industry under the Workers’ Compensation Act — this means that all Alberta theatre companies with paid workers are required to have a WCB account.
Companies can also apply to the WCB in writing for additional coverage for their volunteers. If a volunteer is injured or becomes ill while working for the theatre company, the WCB will assess the volunteer’s total lost earnings from all volunteer and paid positions.
If a theatre company (professional or amateur) applies for WCB coverage for its volunteers, the company must pay WCB premiums for all volunteers at the theatre.
My theatre company is doesn’t have paid workers – just volunteers – are we eligible for WCB coverage?
Volunteer-run amateur theatre companies can also apply for a WCB policy. Under this policy, a volunteer injured or rendered ill while performing unpaid work for the theatre company could receive workers’ compensation for his or her total lost earnings from all full- or part-time “day jobs” and volunteer hours.
Is my volunteer-run theatre company required to provide WCB coverage the same way a professional company is?
On January 1, 2014 changes to the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) Alberta policy came in effect to distinguish between unpaid workers and volunteers. Essentially, the policy means volunteers for not-for-profit organizations are not covered by the WCB unless the not-for-profit organization chooses to opt-in to the program.
In other words, not-for-profit theatre companies that wish to provide WCB coverage for their volunteers must submit a written application to the WCB Alberta to do so.
Below you will find several PDFs that provide more details about the policy changes, how they impact your organization and how to apply to the WCB Alberta to provide coverage for their volunteers. Please carefully review these documents to see how the policy change will impact your theatre organization:
- WCB Volunteer Coverage Policy Change – SUMMARY
- Employer Fact Sheet: Who Do I Have to Cover?
- Employer Fact Sheet: Coverage for Exempt Industries
It is Theatre Alberta’s position that insurance coverage for all volunteers in our industry should be provided, in order to both protect the volunteer from loss and the organization from liability. Whether you choose to provide volunteer coverage through the WCB Alberta or through another insurance provider/product is now entirely up to you.
My theatre company is for-profit – do we need to provide WCB coverage for our volunteers?
If you operate a for-profit company, all volunteers and unpaid workers are considered workers and a WCB account is required. A value of service is estimated to cover workers wages.
How do I create a WCB account?
You can create an WCB account online at www.wcb.ab.ca. (Click the green “WCB for Employers” tab, and then click the “Open a WCB account” link on the top left of the page to access the online application form.)
Click here for a step-by-step example of the WCB online application process (PDF).
Where can I find more information?
Theatre Alberta and WCB Alberta has developed a short presentation for theatre companies regarding Worker’s Compensation. Click here to view the presentation slide show (PDF).
If you have any additional questions, you’re welcome to contact Theatre Alberta and we can do our best to answer your questions and/or put you in touch with a WCB representative who can provide more information. Call Theatre Alberta at 780-422-8162 (in Edmonton) or 1-888-422-8160 (toll-free in Alberta) or email us a email@example.com.
*Thank you to all members of the theatre community that submitted feedback to the WCB Alberta regarding proposed policy changes for volunteers for not-for-profit organizations back in August 2013. For more background information on the history of this issue, please click here and click here.