The CNESST: What dance professionals need to know!

> Automatic protection for performing artists
Status of performing artists
Status of independent choreographers
CNESST coverage and Agreement on the professional dance training program
Work-related accident: what to do
Deadlines for submitting a claim to the CNESST
Process for contesting a CNESST decision
Other resources
> Useful contacts


Before you continue reading, it is important to note that the information presented in this article is of a general nature and does not express the opinions of a doctor or the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) representative regarding a work-related accident or employment injury. If you need legal advice or opinions on how to interpret the laws and regulations in effect, you should consult a lawyer or notary. You can also contact CNESST or the following associations and groups to obtain general information on occupational health and safety.


All performers, without exception, are protected by the Act respecting occupational health and safety

All performers domiciled in Quebec, whether they are independent workers or salaried employees, who work for an employer with an establishment in Quebec, are automatically covered by the CNESST when they participate in rehearsals or performances in or outside Quebec. If a performer is offered a contract stipulating that s/he is not protected by the CNESST, this runs counter to the law. No employer may ask a performer to accept such a clause in a contract of employment.

When performers suffer from an accident while working for an independent choreographer or dance company, they are entitled to first aid, medical assistance and compensation, free of charge, as provided by law. To have the work-related accident recognized, performers must notify their employer or representative when the accident occurs. They must then consult a doctor who will provide a medical certificate and report. Emergency medical care (first aid, transportation by ambulance, hospitalization, etc.) must be provided as necessary. If performers are unable to notify their employer or representative of the accident, another person (colleague, friend, parent, etc.) may do so on their behalf.

To learn more
Les producteurs du domaine artistique et la Loi sur les accidents du travail et les maladies professionnelles (CNESST) (in French)
En cas d’accident ou de maladie du travail : voici ce qu’il faut savoir! (CNESST) (in French)


Performers are workers, according to the Act respecting occupational health and safety

At the CNESST, artists who work in an area of negotiation covered by an artists’ association (Union des artistes, Quebec Musicians’ Guild, Canadian Actors Equity Association, Alliance of Canadian Television and Radio Artists) hold the status of worker (in the sense of employee) according to the Act respecting occupational health and safety. This status is automatically assigned to performers, regardless of whether they are members of these associations, unless they provide their services via a legal person (i.e., a company). Take note! A performer considered a self-employed worker under income tax legislation does not have the same status under the Act respecting occupational health and safety.

Learn more
Amount paid by an artistic producer in the form of a fee, flat fee agreement or royalty (in French) (CNESST)
Note 296 - Démarche de détermination d’un statut d’une personne physique aux fins de la cotisation (CNESST) (in French). See Section 6: “Le statut des artistes”  


Independent choreographers and the status of employer at the CNESST

An independent choreographer who employs at least one person (even without pay) for the creation, production or presentation of a show, is obliged to register with the CNESST as an employer no later than 60 days following the start of these activities. This requirement applies to independent choreographers who are working on artistic projects on a self-employed basis as well as choreographers working through their company.

Take note! Although independent choreographers are considered self-employed for income tax purposes, if they employ at least one performer (even without pay), they are considered employers under the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases. That is why choreographers must register with the CNESST as employers.

Once they have registered with the CNESST, independent choreographers, like companies, must declare salaries and fees paid to workers, with the exception of rights to use works, residual rights, neighbouring rights, profit sharing and royalties. Living and travel expenses covered by the choreographer or dance company are not factored into the CNESST contribution amount.

Learn more
Registering with the CNESST
Producteurs du domaine artistique, La loi sur les accidents du travail et les maladies professionnelles, ça vous concerne! (in French) (CNESST)
The CNESST: Registration costs for choreographers and producers


Regulation respecting the implementation of the Agreement on the professional dance training program

Since January 2006, dancers admitted to the Dancer Training Support Program are protected by the CNESST in the event of an injury or accident occurring during supervised training that is not part of a work contract. This protection is provided through the Agreement on the professional dance training program between the CNESST and the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec. Take note! This protection does not apply to a performer who participates in research, creation, rehearsal or presentation activities with an independent choreographer or dance company.

Learn more
Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec : Entente relative au programme des classes d'entraînement dans le domaine de la danse professionnelle (in French)
Québec Danse portal: Dancer Training Support Program
Regulation respecting the implementation of the Agreement on the professional dance training program 


What to do if your doctor is on vacation or is not available to see you?

If an injury or accident occurs during a rehearsal, show, training activity or on tour, and you are unable to see your regular doctor, don’t panic! Go to a walk-in clinic or the nearest hospital. Inform the physician that you have had a work-related accident and ask for a medical certificate. You must send this certificate with your claim to the CNESST.

Afterwards, make an appointment to see your regular doctor. The latter will become your attending physician in matters related to the CNESST and will play a key role in your healing process. He or she who will diagnose your injury, recommend appropriate treatments to get you back on your feet rapidly, and determine your injury recovery date. Your attending physician will inform you of your state of health and ability to return to work. It is therefore important to establish a relationship of trust with him or her. This relationship will protect you against any pressure—for example, from your employer or the CNESST—for the duration of your rehabilitation.

Learn more
En cas d’accident ou de maladie du travail : voici ce qu'il faut savoir! (CNESST) (in French)


How long do you have to submit a claim to the CNESST?

To have access to reimbursements or compensation from the CNESST, workers must submit a claim within six months from the date of the accident or onset of the occupational injury. Take note! The longer a worker waits to submit a claim, the more likely the claim will be refused by the CNESST.

We all know performers are tough, but they often wait too long before consulting a doctor and informing their employer of the seriousness of an injury. It is essential that performers notify their employer or his/her representative as soon as possible in the event of an incident, even if they do not require immediate medical attention. The date and description of the event will be registered in an injury record that employers are legally obliged to maintain. The logging of the event in the injury record can serve as proof that it actually occurred because of, or during work carried out three months earlier. In this case, workers may have access to the treatments and indemnities to which they are entitled.

Learn more
Worker’s claim (CNESST)
Registre d'accidents, d'incidents et de premiers secours (CNESST) (in French)
Examples of incident records and work-related injuries in the performing arts, prepared by the Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et sécurité du travail (IRSST) are also available on request from RQD.


Not satisfied with a CNESST decision?

The Act respecting occupational health and safety stipulates that employers or workers who feel they have been wronged by a CNESST decision are entitled to contest that decision. An application for review must be submitted in writing no later than 30 days following notification of the decision, at the offices of the CNESST in the region where the worker lives. The worker or employer must specify the subject of the decision and reasons for the contestation. The CNESST may confirm, invalidate or modify the original decision after giving both the worker and the employer an opportunity to present their arguments. If either the worker or employer still feels wronged by the new decision, they must enquire at the Tribunal administrative du travail. An attending physician, an association (UDA, CRTD, UTTAM, etc.) or a lawyer may accompany the worker throughout the review process.

Learn more
CNESST: FAQ – General information (in French)
Tribunal administratif du travail: Contesting a CNESST decision (in French) 


Some definitions

The Act respecting occupational health and safety defines the obligations of employers, employees and service providers in terms of preventing work-related accidents and occupational diseases. The Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases mainly covers financial support, compensation and rehabilitation in cases of professional injury.

The Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases defines the terms below as follows:

Industrial accident

“a sudden and unforeseen event, attributable to any cause, which happens to a person, arising out of or in the course of his work and resulting in an employment injury to him”


“a person who, under a contract of employment or of apprenticeship, uses the services of a worker for the purposes of his establishment”

Employment injury

“an injury or a disease arising out of or in the course of an industrial accident, or an occupational disease, including a recurrence, relapse or aggravation”

Occupational disease

“a disease contracted out of or in the course of work and characteristic of that work or directly related to the risks peculiar to that work”


“a natural person who does work for an employer for remuneration under a contract of employment or of apprenticeship, except

  (1) a domestic;

(2) a natural person engaged by an individual to care for a child or a sick, handicapped or aged person and who does not live in the dwelling of the individual;

   (3) a person who plays sports as his main source of income;

(4) an executive officer of a legal person regardless of the work the executive officer does for the legal person;

(5) a natural person if that person acts as a family-type resource or an intermediate resource.

Independent operator

“a natural person who carries on work for his own account, alone or in partnership, and does not employ any worker” 

Learn more

An Act respecting occupational health and safety
An Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases


Other occupational health and safety resources

Québec Danse portal – Health and safety resources
CNESST – FAQ section
Prevention guide - Quand la prévention entre en scène, chacun a son rôle à jouer! (in French)
Pour comprendre le régime québécois de santé et de sécurité du travail (in French)
Centre patronal de santé et sécurité du travail du Québec
> Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et sécurité du travail (IRSST)
Réseau de santé publique en santé au travail


Useful contacts

1 844 838-0808 (Monday to Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

Regroupement québécois de la danse
Virginie Desloges, Finance and Administration Manager
514 849-4003, ext. 228

Dancer Transition Resource Centre
Parise Mongrain, Quebec Program Officer
514 284-1515

Union des artistes
514 288-7150, ext 1000 or 1 877 288-6682 (toll free)

Union des travailleurs et travailleuses accidentés de Montréal (UTTAM)
514 527-3661

Aide aux travailleurs accidentés (Quebec City and Eastern Quebec)
418 598-9844

Comité des travailleurs et travailleuses accidentés de l'Estrie
819 563-8178 |


The translation of this page has been made possible in part by thte Government of Canada.