How would YOU kill the underground economy in residential construction?

Anthony Capkun
January 12, 2016
January 12, 2016 - Ontario says it is seeking input from individuals who work in the residential construction sector on ways to prevent illegal practices that contribute to the underground economy, such as under-the-table transactions.

Laura Albanese, parliamentary assistant to the Minister of Finance, is consulting with stakeholders, like the Ontario Home Builders’ Association, “to better understand the scope of the underground economy” within the sector. She will also gather advice on how best to help responsible contractors remain successful and support the economy.

“It is important to hear from the people who work in the construction sector as they will be able to provide the most valuable input on how to combat the underground economy,” said Albanese.

Individuals that run a business or work in the residential construction sector are invited to submit their ideas on the types of illicit activities that impact their ability to remain competitive to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

“As the voice of the residential construction and professional renovation industry in Ontario, OHBA welcomes these discussions and looks forward to working with the government to stop the underground economy in order to protect consumers and support professional home builders and renovators,” said , OHBA CEO.

According to the ministry, the underground economy accounts for $15 billion in lost economic activity in Ontario each year. Illicit practices may also impact worker safety and prevent workers from accessing government support programs, says the ministry, such as workplace safety and insurance protections, the Canada Pension Plan and Employment Insurance.

Statistics Canada says the residential construction sector accounts for almost 30% of Ontario’s underground economy, or about $4.5 billion in annual underground economic activity.


0 #9 Editor EBMag 2016-03-29 10:54
Back on February 8, 2016, EBMag emailed this news item and its Comments to Ms. Albanese. Today is March 29, 2016, and we’ve not heard back from anyone.
0 #8 Luke b 2016-02-06 21:41
Get rid of the HST for non commercial projects, hold the homeowner responsible for not hiring licensed and regulated trades. Stop the big box stores from selling electrical, plumbing, heating cooling products to non regulated people. Mandatory building and electrical inspections when a house is sold. Set up a registry for building and trade products. People die in house fires because some idiots friends brother knows how to do wiring. have the MOL, OCOT, ESA, Building depts work weekends I guarantee if someone has lumber sitting in their driveway is finishing their basement without permits. Cut down the cost of residential permits across the board. Have homeowners sign declarations when a house is sold that no work has been done in the home without permits and hold the homeowner accountable. We have had enough deaths, Mold issues and monoxide poisoning and injuries in Ontario because of non competent people.
+2 #7 Rob Sloan 2016-02-03 14:56
Until homeowners suffer consequences this will never end. The root cause is that HST is too high. A LOT of homeowners want to do things right, and WILL if the tax is under 10%. I get asked all the time, but not at all when we had the GST rebate. The real trouble is that once they realize that they can save 13% (HST in Ontario) plus ESA costs, the next thing they are looking to hire an Electrician (not an LEC). And these same people are still afforded protection for the Consumer Protection Act and Insurance too. Let's face it the government really only cares about the lost revenue, and that is really only because they have a spending problem. It is only a matter of time before UBER offers light installers or basic electrical repairs.
+2 #6 Rein 2016-01-27 19:36
My involuntary contribution to the underground economy in the electrical world is $350000+ in lost wages, observing unsafe placement of wires, endangering a licensed capacity of over 2600 guests of a gambling facility. Because of the unwillingness of enforcing existing laws by the Ontario government, the unscrupulous employers stand to earn a lot of money, while the workers and other taxpayers furthermore foot the bill of ever-growing deficits of the WSIB and lost tax revenues and wages – how much did you contribute to this sick cause?
+2 #5 Simple Simon 2016-01-27 13:06
You have to remove the demand. It is the homeowners (struggling to make ends meet) that seek a money saving option. GST was the worst thing that ever happened to the construction industry. High Permit costs is the second. Work Safe and other imposed over head is the third. It is not the legitimate contractor that has priced himself out of the formula. It is the government and all the red tape that has.
+1 #4 Electrician 2016-01-27 11:58
As a small electrical contractor for over 30 years, many times I lost work because I wouldn't do jobs for "cash, no GST" or even "contract
+2 #3 Doug 2016-01-20 14:19
15 Billion????? I'll bet it is at least double that. The driving force for the underground economy is TAXATION and until people realize this and do something to correct it this issue it will only continue to escalate. As soon as new regulations are put into place the government has to employ more people to enforce them hence higher tax burdon on the legimitate businesses. This is the same for all the underground economy from tobacco, alcohol & drugs. TAXATION< TAXATION
+4 #2 Worknman 2016-01-20 13:10
This is an easy fix, create a safety inspection certificate similar to a vehicle safety checks for houses that must be issued before a sale can take place. Therefore only valid licensed contractors can issue the certificates and the owners and buyers are responsible for providing the information before the sale can take place.
+1 #1 Jonathan 2016-01-20 12:58
"According to the ministry, the underground economy accounts for $15 billion in lost economic activity in Ontario each year."
It's not lost at all. Someone is still getting paid; someone is providing for their family. It's not fair to taxpayers though...

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