Liability in running non-profit community group in Canada

My city has a programme whereby they allocate funds for staffing playgrounds to community groups. Since I live near a playground and have several kids I became involved in one of the groups about four years ago. Now I’m the head of my group and each year hire a student as playground leader. There are some extra funds for events and some playground equipment such as balls, chalk, paint, etc. I hire the leader using the city’s funds but their hiring has to be approved by the city and they arrange for first aid training and that kind of thing. I do the payroll, issue the T-4, pay CPP and all that.

An issue that I haven’t heard be brought up yet is with liability. I would like to ask the support person with the city and have her consult the legal department but first I’d like to get some ideas on what issues to be concerned with, the right questions to be asking to make sure we’re properly covered in case someone gets hurt. I know some of my responsibilities as an employer but not all of them since in this case there’s a grey area there.

I’m not asking for free legal advice (at least, I don’t think I am) just some guidance on the areas of concern or pitfalls I may not be aware of.

A few areas concerning liability that come to mind:

– Worker’s Compensation. You want to make sure that your leader is covered for any on-the-job injuries. But this is an issue you should clarify, since you say that you administer payroll (etc.) while the City approves the hiring and supplies the funds. Key question here is, “For whom is the leader working?” Answer that, and you’ll know who should be paying WC premiums.

– General liability. Undoubtedly, the City has some sort of liability insurance covering public areas, including your playground. You may want to find out a little more about this coverage, since if a child is injured in the course of an activity organized by the leader, the City may be liable. Or you may be, if the leader is working for you. Or it may be shared, depending on the details of the incident. Again, clarify, as it may have a bearing on what you will and won’t allow your leader to do.

– Personal liability as regards your leader. Sadly, more and more these days, adults (even young ones) who work with children find it advisable to get a liability insurance policy that protects them from accusations of molesting children in their care. It is not uncommon, for example, for folks like Scout and Guide leaders to get such policies. This is something you should ask the City about, since it may have such policies for other playground leaders. If not, you may wish to look into a policy for your leader.

Thanks for your input.

Good question. I’m not sure since I do the payroll and the business number is in my name but obviously since they have to be approved by the city they are taking a role there too. I mostly approach it as though I’m the employer but I do need to get it clarified. The playground is only staffed for 9 weeks. In New Brunswick, AFAIK, they aren’t eligible for workman’s compensation if injured on the job.

I think shared sounds most likely. That will be the main thing I have to sort out with them (the city) it seems.

Crap, I never thought about anything like that.