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, 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.

That is why we strongly recommend you read this article in order to take the most appropriate measures to protect yourself in case of work-related injuries.


Article overview

• Some definitions
• When self-employed individuals are considered workers: the case of dancers and performers
• Personal protection: optional
• How much do I have to pay the CNESST to get personal protection?
• Can I have the cost of my personal protection reduced?
Take note!
• Learn more

** Since January 1, 2016, the Commission des normes du travail (CNT), the Commission de l’équité salariale (CES) and the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CSST) have been merged into one body: the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) **


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.” 


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.

After analyzing some one hundred collective agreements concluded under the Act Respecting the Professional Status and Conditions of Engagement of Performing, Recording and Film Artists, the CNESST has determined that all artists carrying out a role represented by the Union des artists, the Quebec Musicians’ Guild, ACTRA, AQTIS, etc. are presumed to be workers and are automatically covered, regardless of whether they are members of these associations. According to this analysis, employers are obliged to declare to the CNESST all remuneration paid to artists and performers, except if the latter provide their services via a legal person (i.e., a company).

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 2016 is $1.81. That means that for every $100 paid in fees or salary, the employer or self-employed worker must pay a premium of $1.81 to the CNESST.

In 2016, the minimum insurable salary at the CNESST for personal protection is $22,442. Self-employed workers wishing to benefit from personal protection will have to pay $406.20, even if they have an annual income of less than $22,442. If self-employed workers earn more than $22,442, 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 $1.81) ÷ 100 = $506.80

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.

Further reading

Calculating premium amounts
Parlons assurance 2016, taux de prime (in French)


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.


Take note!

The information presented above is general in nature and does not reflect the opinion of the CNESST. For information about Quebec’s occupational health and safety regime, contact the CNESST at 1 844 838-0808. If you need a legal opinion or legal advice on the interpretation of laws or regulations in effect, consult a lawyer or notary.


Learn more

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
Daniel Bastien, Professional Development Coordinator
514 849-4003, ext. 227

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 |

Fondation pour l’aide aux travailleuses et aux travailleurs accidentés
Montreal: 514 271-0901
Quebec City: 418 688-7273


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