ESA expands its compliance toolbox with administrative penalties
In Ontario, make sure you hire a licensed electrical contractor to conduct any electrical work.
April 3, 2023 By Anthony Capkun
April 3, 2023 – With the aim of reducing illegal and unsafe electrical installations across Ontario, the Electrical Safety Authority has been empowered to impose “administrative” (financial) penalties beginning April 1, 2023.
As an administrative authority acting on behalf of the Government of Ontario, the Electrical Safety Authority is responsible for administering specific regulations related to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, the licensing of electrical contractors and master electricians, electricity distribution system safety, and electrical product safety.
“In addition to prosecutions, ESA now has another compliance tool that will hold participants of the underground economy accountable for their dangerous behaviours,” said Josie Erzetic, ESA’s president & CEO. “These penalties will be utilized to send a clear message that will act as a strong deterrent to unlicensed work.”
Administrative penalties will be used in tandem with current enforcement tools, says ESA, which include provincial prosecutions, licensure suspension or imposing terms and conditions on a licence. Having the ability to issue administrative penalties will strengthen ESA’s mandate to protect Ontarians from the hazards that can result from illegal electrical work, adds the agency.
99% of the prosecutions pursued by ESA under the Provincial Offences Act (1998) last year were against individuals working in the underground economy. However, due to the “considerable resources” needed to prosecute offenders through the courts, ESA would only focus on cases that had the greatest effect on safety and the strongest likelihood of conviction.
Now, with the introduction of administrative penalties, ESA has more enforcement tools at its disposal.
How will administrative penalties be used?
Examples of contraventions where ESA can issue an administrative penalty include (but are not limited to):
• conducting electrical work without a licence
• advertising electrical services without a licence
• working without filing a notification (permit) with ESA
• hiring or subcontracting an unlicensed contractor (applies to general contractors, facility owners, homeowners… anyone!)
Depending on the nature of the contravention, these penalties can go as high as $10,000 per penalty. Monies collected will go directly toward funding electrical safety and consumer awareness initiatives across Ontario, says ESA.
The agency has this advice for both generals or homeowners seeking someone for electrical work:
Make sure you hire a licensed electrical contractor to conduct any electrical work.
With limited exemptions, ESA-licensed electrical contractors are the only businesses legally authorized to do electrical work in Ontario. LECs are required to be fully insured, arrange notifications (permits) with ESA, have certified staff to perform electrical work, and obtain an ESA certificate of acceptance.
The agency says it worked with the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery on a legislative and regulatory framework for its Administrative Penalty regime, with consultation from relevant stakeholder groups, including LECs and master electricians, as well as ESA’s advisory councils.
The framework outlines a tiered penalty structure: an opportunity for recipients to be given notice and an opportunity to respond, as well as a formal appeals process. ESA will publish confirmed administrative penalties on its website to provide consumers the information they need to make an informed decision when hiring a contractor to conduct electrical work.
In 2020, the Auditor General of Ontario recommended that the province provide ESA with the power to issue monetary penalties to help deter both illegal electrical installations and individuals working in the underground economy. Administrative penalties will be used as a tool to address certain acts of non-compliance under the Electricity Act (1998) and its Regulations.
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