TRUSTED ADVISOR AND ADVOCATE
TRUSTED ADVISOR AND ADVOCATE
The Electrical Safety Authority (“ESA”) regulates electrical contractors and master electricians in Ontario by administering certain parts of the Electricity Act, 1998 (“EA”) it’s regulations, specifically 570/05, and the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. It does so by requiring businesses and master electricians to acquire a licence to conduct electrical contracting work, which has specific requirements related to experience, competency, insurance, and professionalism. The ESA also employs a “director” to make administrative decisions regarding refusing, suspending, limiting, or revoking an licence.
Burokas Law acts as an ESA Lawyer by representing electrical contractors and master electricians who seek a licence with the ESA or are already in possession of one but need help with their dealings with the ESA. Services include:
Businesses wishing to conduct electrical work require an electrical contract licence to practice. An electrician seeking to work for a contractor as a master electrician- responsible for planning, supervision, Electrical Safety Code compliance etc- requires a master electrician licence. In order to acquire either licence, one must meet both the prescribed requirements and a general test for registration.
The prescribed requirements include, among other things, either being a master electrician or employing one and having at least $2,000,000 in insurance. For a master electrician licence, requirements include 3 years experience as an electrician (or equivalent) and passing a qualifying exam within the preceding 12 months. A full list of the requirements can be found at sections 8 and 11 of Ontario Regulation 570/05.
Once these requirements are met, the Director may still refuse to grant a licence if he or she has reason to believe the applicant:
The Director applies the same criteria in considering whether a licence should be:
If the Director wishes to refuse an applicant or take any of these actions, he or she must issue a proposal to the applicant/licensee explaining the action taken, which criteria they are relying on to do so, and why (subject to some exceptions). That individual or business may appeal the Director’s decision and challenge it at a hearing. At the hearing, the applicant/licensee can call oral and documentary evidence, and challenge the Director’s evidence. The Director will then decide whether the proposal should still be carried out or not.
The ESA employs inspectors who are empowered under the Electricity Act to enter places of business and inspect all documents, records, electrical products/devices and remove documents and records for further inspection. If the inspector believes on reasonable grounds the product or device being sold in violation of the Electricity Act, they may order the licensee to turn over the item. Information obtained during an inspection can be used by the Director to instigate an administrative action like refusal or revocation a licence.
The ESA also employs investigators who investigate violations of the Electricity Act and may lay charges. Like police officers, ESA investigators may obtain search warrants from a court empowering them to search locations and seize items. Like inspections, information obtain by an investigator may be used by the Director in an administrative action.
The Electricity Act has a lengthy list of offences. Individuals or business charged under the Electricity Act face fines up to $50,000 and 1 year imprisonment (individuals) for each offence if found guilty. Corporations face fines up to $1,000,000. An officer or director of a corporation has a duty to take all reasonable care to prevent the corporation from committing an offence and faces an additional offence if they fail to carry out that duty (with fines up to $50,000 and a year imprisonment).
Offences under the Electricity Act are heard in the Ontario Court of Justice and conducted similar to a criminal offence. If charged, the individual or business will face series of court appearances where they will receive disclosure about the case against them before deciding to either plead guilty or challenge the charges at trial. Being found guilty of an offence under the Electricity Act will not create a criminal record but will seriously impair an individual's or business’ ability to be licensed by the ESA.
If you are an electrical contractor or master electrician seeking a licence with the ESA or subject to an administrative action, feel free to contact Burokas Law for assistance.