Environmental Health and Safety

Environmental Health and Safety

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Unpaid Student Placements

Students who are required, in order to receive course credit, to participate in unpaid work placements with an external employer are eligible for coverage should they suffer a work-related accident or illness.  This coverage is funded by the Government of Ontario, and not by the placement employers or Queen's University.

Workers' Compensation Coverage

Students on unpaid placements who are working in a setting where employees are covered by workers' compensation through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) would also be eligible for the coverage in the event of a work-related injury. 

The WSIB policy states:

"individuals who are placed by training agencies with employers to obtain work skill and experience, but who are not paid by the employer, are "learners". The "employer" of these individuals is the employer with whom they are placed."

Under this policy, training participants are "learners" if:

  1. The Placement is unpaid. The Placement is considered to be unpaid even if the Student Trainee receives one or more of the following types of payment:​
    • ​​Social assistance benefits (e.g., through Ontario Works Program);
    • Training allowances;
    • Honoraria;
    • Reimbursement of expenses; and,
    • Stipends or any money paid to the Student Trainee by the Training Agency.
  2. The Placement, which may be required or optional, is part of an Approved Program, includes a formal assessment component, and successful completion of the placement is recognized by the Training Agency for the purposes of the completion of the Approved Program.
  3. The Placement is authorized by the Training Agency.
  4. The Placement is a non-classroom activity.
    • ​​Any in-class portion of a training program that occurs at the Training Agency is not an Unpaid Work Placement.

The following types of placements are not eligible to receive Government of Ontario covered benefits or Chubb Insurance Coverage:

  1. The Placement for which a student trainee is paid a salary.  A student trainee on a placement who receives payment or wages from the Placement Employer is considered to be a worker and must be provided with workplace insurance coverage paid for by the Placement employer as is any other worker employed by the Placement Employer.
  2. The Placement is with a Training Agency listed in Appendix A - Appendix A is a list of all Universities and Colleges in Ontario (refer to Government of Ontario Guidelines below). The includes student trainees who, as part of their approved program do unpaid research or other work for their own University. 
  3. The Placement is outside of Ontario (international and other Canadian jurisdictions), in the case of Ministry covered WSIB benefits. Exception: A student trainee in this situation would still be eligible for the Ministry covered costs of private insurance with Chubb Insurance. 
  4. The Placement takes place in the country of primary residence of an international student trainee. A student trainee in this situation would not be eligible for Ministry coverage of WSIB benefits or the costs of private insurance with Chubb Insurance. 

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) Benefits While Working Outside of Ontario

Under Section 18(2) of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act (the Act), Ontario residents are automatically covered while working outside of Ontario, for a period of less than six months. An extension of up to three years may also be granted upon request, under Section 18(3) of the Act.

If an employee’s work takes him/her out of Ontario for less than six months, coverage is automatic as long as work is being done for the university. However, if this work is likely to last six months or longer, the University must apply to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to extend the coverage. 

For students who are placed with employers who do not have WSIB coverage or are completing their unpaid placement outside of Ontario, refer to the Chubb Insurance section below. 

Chubb Accident Insurance Coverage

Private insurance became available on April 1, 1994 for students on unpaid work placements with employers not covered by workers' compensation.  This coverage also applies to students who are placed with employers outside of the province of Canada.  The Ontario government has negotiated this private insurance coverage with Chubb Insurance of Canada (formerly ACE-INA Insurance).  It is therefore necessary that departments establish whether employers who are accepting placement students have WSIB coverage or not. 

Requirements to Establish Workplace Insurance Coverage

Prior to Student Trainees commencing an unpaid work placement, the University is responsible for:

  • Informing student trainees that if they are injured or contracted a disease while on an unpaid work placement while enrolled in an approved program, the university will disclose personal information relating to the unpaid work placement and any WSIB claim or Chubb Insurance claim to the Government of Ontario.
  • Informing student trainees that they are eligible to make a claim for benefits in the event of an injury/disease incurred while in an eligible unpaid work placement. 
  • Ensuring that the Placement Employer understands the coverage available to student trainees on unpaid work placements.
  • Confirming whether the Placement Employer has WSIB coverage during the period of the unpaid work placement. 
  • Ensuring that the Placement Employer, if it has WSIB coverage, is aware of WSIB reporting procedures in the event of an injury/disease. 

Relevant documents/forms:

  1. Student Declaration of Understanding (PDF 227 KB)
  2. WSIB Letter for Placement Employers (PDF 800 KB)
  3. Government of Ontario WSIB Questions and Answers (PDF 237 KB)
  4. Extended Coverage Request Form for Employees Working Outside of Ontario for Longer than 6 Months - contact safety@queensu.ca for a copy of this form.