Can self-employed workers obtain personal protection from the CNESST?

The short answer is yes! Is it easy? Not necessarily . . .

For artists and cultural workers in dance, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail  (CNESST) coverage for self-employed workers can be a complicated business. For a start, the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases does not define the status of self-employed worker the same way as income tax legislation! Furthermore, artists and performers have a specific status.

• Case of dancers and performers
• Personal protection
• Cost of the personal protection?
• Definitions
• 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 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.


When self-employed individuals are considered workers (employees): the case of dancers and performers

According to the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases, dance performers who do paid work for a self-employed individual or an organization involved in show production (dance company, independent choreographer, events organizer, radio or television network, advertising agency, or any other organization or company that acts as a producer) are automatically considered workers, wether freelancers or employees.

Thus, all performers may submit a claim to the CNESST if they become injured during rehearsals or performances. If the employer is not registered with the CNESST, or has not declared the performers’ salaries, the CNESST will take the necessary measures to address the situation and ensure compliance with the law.

Further reading

Chapter 6 of Note 296 – Démarche de détermination d'un statut d'une personne physique aux fins de la cotisation (in French)


Personal protection: optional

Self-employed workers who do not employ anyone are not required to register with the CNESST. However, if they wish to benefit from the protections provided under the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases, they may register for optional personal coverage.

For example, a performing artist may be involved in the creation of a piece in which she will dance solo. She carries out research and creative work alone in the studio. She controls her work, assume all of the financial risks involved in its creation, and does not employ any workers. According to the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases, she is self-employed. She may therefore register for personal coverage from the CNESST in case of a work-related accident. If she does not register for personal protection and an injury occurs while she is working in the studio, she will have to cover her rehabilitation costs.

Further reading

Personal protection


How much do I have to pay the CNESST to get personal protection?

To calculate your personal coverage premium, you need to know the CNESST rate for the unit corresponding to the activities you will be carrying out. For the creation and production of dance performances, the unit is 57010 and the associated premium for 2018 is $1.64. That means that for every $100 paid in fees or salary, the employer or self-employed worker must pay a premium of $1.64 to the CNESST.

In 2018, the minimum insurable salary at the CNESST for personal protection is $25,100. Self-employed workers wishing to benefit from personal protection will have to pay $411.64 even if they have an annual income of less than $25,100. If self-employed workers earn more than $25,100, they should complete the following calculation to find out their premium amount:

Amount of protection x (premium rate) ÷ 100 = premium to be paid

Example: ($28,000 x $1.64) ÷ 100 = $459.20

The premium must be paid in one instalment. The CNESST sends a notice of assessment to self-employed workers once their registration has been confirmed.


Can I have the cost of my personal protection reduced?

Self-employed workers who change status during the year may ask the CNESST to modify or suspend their personal protection. The request may be made at any time during the year and as often as necessary. The CNESST will credit this amount to the following year’s premium.

For example, an artist has taken out personal protection for her own activities as a self-employed worker. At several points during the year, she also works as a performer with independent artists and producers who are considered employers by the CNESST. These employers are obliged to declare to the CNESST the fees paid to the artist as a performer. In such cases, the self-employed artist should ask the CNESST to suspend her personal protection in order to avoid having to pay two sets of contributions.

Further reading

Calculating premium amounts
Parlons assurance 2018, taux de prime (in French)


Some definitions

In Quebec, the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases is intended to compensate workers in the event of work-related injuries and resulting consequences, and to collect contributions from employers in order to finance the regime. The CNESST is in charge of applying the law.

The Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases defines an employer as “a person who, under a contract of employment or of apprenticeship, uses the services of a worker for the purposes of his establishment.”

This same law defines a worker as “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.”

Finally, a self-employed worker or “individual operator” is defined as “a natural person who carries on work for his own account, alone or in partnership, and does not employ any worker.” 


Useful contacts

Québec Danse portal
Health and safety resources

Pour comprendre le régime de santé et de sécurité du travail (in French)
Producteurs du domaine artistique, La loi sur les accidents du travail et les maladies professionnelles, ça vous concerne! (in French)

Self-employed workers

You can also contact the following associations and groups to obtain general information on occupational health and safety:

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 the Government of Canada.