Auditor General Recommendations

On December 7, 2020 the Auditor General of Ontario issued a report on its audit of the Electrical Safety Authority's (ESA's) work. In the report, the Auditor General made 25 recommendations to strengthen our ability to effectively fulfil our mandate. ESA welcomes the opportunity this report provides to strengthen our operations and enhance our effectiveness in ensuring electrical and public safety in Ontario.

ESA Implementation Plan on the Auditor General of Ontario’s Value for Money Audit Recommendations — March 5, 2021

auditor general 25 recommendations status - 43 on track and 5 completed

Note: Statuses noted are based on ESA self-assessment. Final assessment will be completed by the Auditor General of Ontario.

AGR01.1:  Refine and further develop ESA’s new risk-based inspection approach so that it will result in fewer inspections of low-risk installations and more inspections of higher risk installations.

ESA Response: ESA will refine the risk-based inspection approach to focus more resources on higher risk installations.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing
ESA's new Risk Based Oversight program was implemented on July 06, 2020. Each notification is scored by risk level, with sample rates defined to assign resources. All activities complete.

Complete

 

AGR01.2: Set a target for the reduction of low-risk inspections and publicly report on its performance against this target.

ESA Response: After accumulating one year’s data on the impact of the new risk-based approach, ESA will establish and publicly report on performance targets on our website

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing
Work is underway and will be reported next quarter. Establish system to measure effort against inspections by risk rating.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2021

 

AGR01.3:  Wherever possible without jeopardizing public electrical safety, conduct its inspections remotely.

ESA Response: ESA will further our efforts to enhance the use of remote inspections where public safety is not compromised.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing
Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Launch remote inspections to the licensed electrical contractor community.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2021

 

AGR02.1:  Review the fees the ESA charges for homeowner installation inspections with an aim to maintain public compliance with electrical safety law.

ESA Response: The ESA’s fee model supports the overall electrical safety system therefore, the ESA agrees to review how to balance cost recovery for its activities and fees that provide value for the public.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing
Work is underway and will be reported next quarter. Review homeowner notifications in light of Risk-Based Oversight response

On Track

Target Completion — Summer 2022

 

AGR02.2:  Revisit the fee model as a whole to identify where fees can be reduced.

ESA Response: The ESA’s fee model supports the overall electrical safety system therefore, the ESA agrees to review how to balance cost recovery for its activities and fees that provide value for the public.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing
Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Review operational costs and identify opportunities to modify fee model.

On Track

Target Completion — Winter 2021/2022

 

AGR02.3:  Identify and implement changes to streamline its operations and reduce operational costs.

ESA Response: The ESA’s fee model supports the overall electrical safety system therefore, the ESA agrees to review how to balance cost recovery for its activities and fees that provide value for the public.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Review fee model and identify opportunities for operational cost reduction.

On Track

Target Completion — Spring 2021

 

AGR03.1:  Negotiate with the union representing inspectors to more closely align its reimbursement policy with the Ontario government’s Travel and Meal Reimbursement Directive to allow for meal reimbursements.

ESA Response: The next round of bargaining negotiations will take place in 2023. The ESA will work with the union on a review of the reimbursement policies.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

No action at this time.

See next item for interim measures to be implemented.

On Track

Target Completion — Spring 2023

 

AGR03.2:  As soon as possible provide its inspectors with additional guidance on reasonability of meal expenses.

ESA Response: ESA will follow up with inspectors and provide guidance on meal expenses for themselves and licensed electrical contractors.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Notice given to all inspectors regarding meal expenses on January 12, 2021

All activities complete.

Complete

 

AGR03.3:  Disallow any reimbursements for meals inspectors have with licensed electrical contractors.

ESA Response: ESA will follow up with inspectors and provide guidance on meal expenses for themselves and licensed electrical contractors.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Notice given to all regulatory inspectors prohibiting meal purchases for Licensed Electrical Contractors on January 12, 2021.

All activities complete.

Complete

 

AGR04:  To demonstrate and confirm that the ESA operates economically while improving public electrical safety, we recommend that the ESA implement the changes needed to follow all the requirements of the Ontario Government’s Procurement Directive as soon as possible.

ESA Response: ESA is on track to implement the changes needed by the end of this fiscal year.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Review all outstanding items identified in the review of ESA’s procurement processes against the Government’s procurement directive.

On Track

Target Completion — Spring 2021

 

AGR05.1:  To improve the public electrical safety inspection process and confirm that inspectors are checking installations in accordance with its new risk-based inspection policy, we recommend ESA put controls in place to ensure inspectors are not over-inspecting simple installations and under-inspecting more complex installations.

ESA Response: ESA will implement controls and monitor performance against over-inspecting installations according to their risk rating.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Risk Based Oversight was implemented July 06, 2020. Each notification is scored by risk level, with sample rates defined to assign resources by risk level.  Number of Inspections completed by risk level is reported and monitored by management.

All activities complete.

Complete

 

AGR05.2: To improve the public electrical safety inspection process and confirm that inspectors are checking installations in accordance with its new risk-based inspection policy, we recommend ESA stop issuing certificates of inspection for installations that require a site visit but are not inspected.

ESA Response: ESA will stop issuing certificates of inspections and instead issue a Certificate of Acceptance for those notifications we do not physically inspect.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing
Risk Based Oversight was implemented July 06, 2020. Where a notification is passed but not visited, the applicant receives a Certificate of Acceptance.

All activities complete.

Complete

 

AGR06.1:  Change its inspection scheduling process to ensure that its inspectors are given the time needed to properly conduct all assigned inspections, and reduce the number of rescheduled inspections required that result from cancellations.

ESA Response: ESA will develop scheduling tools to better align assigned workload with inspector resources. ESA will implement multi-year IT solutions.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Risk Based Oversight was implemented July 06, 2020. This enables ESA to reduce the number of physical inspections assigned to an inspector based on risk.

Build design for scheduling wherein an inspector is only assigned the work they can accomplish in a day, based on risk and job content.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2023

 

AGR06.2:  Notify people if their scheduled inspections are cancelled.

ESA Response: ESA will develop and implement communication mechanisms to provide notice when inspections cannot be completed as scheduled.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Risk Based Oversight was implemented July 06, 2020. Where an inspector will not be visiting a site due to the RBO recommendation, the inspector advises the applicant electronically through text or email.

Pilot expansion of manual notification processes on a wider basis.

Study/evaluate automated mechanisms to communicate when an inspection is not completed as scheduled.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2022

 

AGR07.1: To help maintain public electrical safety through thorough and consistent inspections of electrical installations, we recommend ESA develop inspection standards and checklists as soon as possible.

ESA Response: ESA will develop and publish inspection standards and checklists for the most common installations, based on volumes.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Develop inspection standards for top 10 high volume inspections and defect types within wiring services.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2021

 

AGR07.2:  We recommend ESA make its inspection standards and checklists publicly available.

ESA Response: ESA will publish inspection standards and checklists for the most common installations, based on volumes.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Publish the inspection standards from AGR 07.1 on ESA’s website.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2021

 

AGR07.3:  We recommend ESA establish a monitoring process to ensure that the new inspection standards are being followed.

ESA Response: ESA will establish a monitoring process to ensure the new standards are being followed.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Develop a corporate policy with follow-up mechanism that ensures standards are being followed.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2021

 

AGR08.1:  To protect the public from fire, electrocution and other possible harm from unsafe installations, we recommend the ESA establish one clear policy on when follow-up must be conducted, addressing both regular and periodic inspections.

ESA Response: ESA will establish clear policies when follow-up must be conducted for each of regular and periodic inspections.

Actions Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Strengthen corporate policy, including guidelines for defect follow-up for Continuous Safety Services notifications that are aligned with regular inspections.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2021

 

AGR08.2:  We recommend the ESA test its computer systems for correct functioning, and accurate processing and display of all inspection information.

ESA Response: ESA will continue to test computer systems for correct functioning of inspection information.

Actions Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Review data model and a report outlining accuracy rate. Develop necessary corrective actions as appropriate.

On Track

Target Completion — Spring 2021

 

AGR08.3:  We recommend the ESA monitor that inspectors are doing follow-up inspections within the set timelines and that unsafe installations are fixed within the required time.

ESA Response: ESA will continue to monitor the rate and pace of follow-up inspections against established target time frames.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing
Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Strengthen internal requirements to manage activities of inspectors to follow-up on defects within established timelines.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2021

 

AGR09: To enhance public electrical safety, we recommend the ESA verify that industrial facilities that switch from periodic to regular inspections are notifying the ESA of all of their electrical installations.

ESA Response: ESA will institute a more rigorous review of industrial facilities that switch from periodic to regular inspections for their electrical installations.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Collect data on installations no longer part of the Continuous Safety Services program within the last 6 months.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2021

 

AGR10: To enhance public electrical safety, we recommend that the ESA promptly act to implement all of the action items from the consultant reviews of the ESA’s oversight of local distribution companies (distributors) that have not yet been implemented.

ESA Response: ESA has addressed all high-priority items. ESA will continue to address the remaining items not yet implemented.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Prioritize and complete all outstanding items stemming from the third-party review of the ESA’s oversight of local distribution companies.

On Track

Target Completion — Spring 2022

 

AGR11.1: To ensure regulatory inspections are not negatively impacted by general inspection services that are not required by law, we recommend the Ministry of Government & Consumer Services (MGCS) assess the appropriateness of ESA conducting general inspection services to the public and stop them immediately if it finds this is inappropriate.

ESA Response: This is a joint recommendation with MGCS. We will assist MGCS in the determination of the appropriateness of ESA conducting general inspections and recommend a future approach.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Assess the general inspection program with MGCS and stop offering the service if it finds it inappropriate.

On Track

Target Completion — Spring 2022

 

AGR11.2: We recommend the ESA follow up on any instances of non-compliance with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code in a timely manner, if general inspection services continue to be offered to the public.

ESA Response: ESA will continue to follow up on any instances of non-compliance with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code that represent a risk of imminent fire or shock hazard in a timely manner when we offer general inspection services not required by law.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Notifications were reviewed and all required follow-ups completed by December 2020.

Develop next steps based on outcomes of AGR 11.1.

On Track

Target Completion — Summer 2022

 

AGR12.1: To improve compliance with electrical safety laws and reduce the number of illegal electrical installations, we recommend that the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) together with the ESA and industry stakeholders reassess the current restrictions in Ontario where electrical work for the public can only be conducted by licensed electrical contractors to determine if other arrangements are possible for certified electricians and master electricians.

ESA Response: This is a joint recommendation with the MGCS. ESA will work with MGCS (and others) to re-assess the current restriction on who can perform electrical installation to see if other arrangements are possible for MEs and Certified Electricians.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Undertake an assessment of the current restrictions on who can perform electrical work.

On Track

Target Completion — Spring 2022

 

AGR12.2: We recommend that the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) together with the ESA and industry stakeholders determine whether certified electricians or master electricians can be allowed to perform lower-risk installation work.

ESA Response: This is a joint recommendation with the MGCS. ESA will work with MGCS (and others) to determine whether certified electricians or master electricians can be allowed to perform lower-risk installation work.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Undertake consultations with stakeholders, including ESA's Advisory Councils (ECRA, CoAC and CAC).

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2022

 

AGR12.3: We also recommend the ESA in consultation with industry stakeholders review and establish reasonable licensing and inspection fees to address the illegal electrical installation market.

ESA Response: As part of its review of the overall fee model, ESA will review reasonable inspection fees.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Review inspection fee model within context of administrative agreement to help address the illegal electrical installation market.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2022

 

AGR13: To reduce the occurrence of illegal electrical installations, we recommend that the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) together with the ESA work with municipalities to determine whether ESA inspections can be incorporated into the building permit assessment process.

ESA Response: This is a joint recommendation with the MGCS. ESA will work with MGCS, the Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MMAH) and Housing and relevant stakeholders in order to determine whether ESA inspections can be incorporated into the building permit process.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Conduct an assessment to determine whether ESA inspections can be incorporated into the building permit process.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2022

 

AGR14.1: To enhance public awareness about the risks associated with hiring unlicensed electrical contractors, we recommend that the ESA re-evaluate its approach to public awareness campaigns to better inform the public on the risks of hiring an unlicensed contractor.

ESA Response: ESA is committed to increasing public awareness of the risks of hiring an unlicensed contractor.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will reported next quarter.

Prepare a report that reviews current LEC communications campaign and recommend strategies and tactics to better inform homeowners.

On Track

Target Completion — Summer 2021

 

AGR14.2: We recommend that the ESA educate the public on the differences between a certified electrician, master electrician and licensed electrical contractor.

ESA Response: ESA will look for further opportunities to educate the public and address the differences between licensed electrical contractors, master electricians and certified electricians.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is under way and will be reported next quarter.

Deliver an initiatives plan to enhance public education.

On Track

Target Completion — Summer 2022

In addition, ongoing actions will be undertaken between 2022-2024 with multi-year licensed electrical contractor awareness campaigns.

 

AGR15.1: The Ministry of Government & Consumer Services (MGCS) enable the ESA to directly issue monetary fines.

ESA Response: This is a joint recommendation with the MGCS. ESA will review its processes to ensure that there is a robust mechanism for reviewing and following up on illegal electrical installations.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

ESA will work with MGCS to consider its compliance and enforcement model in relation to inclusion of an Administrative Monetary Penalties process.

On Track

Target Completion — Summer 2022

 

AGR15.2: The ESA dedicate sufficient resources to review and follow up on all reported cases of illegal electrical installations.

ESA Response: ESA will review its processes to ensure that there is a robust mechanism for reviewing and following up on illegal electrical installations.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Business Case has been submitted for approval.

Assess resources needs to review and follow up on all reported cases of illegal electrical installations and develop a business case for approval.

On Track

Target Completion — Summer 2022

 

AGR16: To strengthen its Master Electrician licensing process, we recommend that the ESA more frequently update the Master Electrician exam with new questions.

ESA Response: ESA has initiated a plan, in conjunction with stakeholders, to review the Master Electrician exam format and the exam questions electrical installations.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Review exam structure, clarify questions that have low response rates and create additional questions.

On Track

Target Completion — Summer 2022

 

AGR17.1: To enhance public electrical safety, we recommend that the ESA work together with the Ministry Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) to implement a continuing-education requirement as a condition of master electrician licensing.

ESA Response
This is a joint recommendation with the MGCS. ESA is developing a voluntary continuing education program for master electricians.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Consult with stakeholders on the development of a mandatory continuous education framework.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2022

 

AGR17.2: We recommend that the ESA work together with the Ministry Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) to work with the body that oversees the certification of electricians to discuss implementing a requirement for continuing education.

ESA Response: This is a joint recommendation with the MGCS. ESA will work with the MGCS and the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development to review the potential implementation of a mandatory continuing education requirement for master electricians.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Once the new body is announced, establish contact and share our expertise on continuous mandatory education and discuss their plans on continuous education.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2022

 

AGR18: In light of the wide availability of uncertified electrical products online, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS), together with the ESA and industry stakeholders, should review the current electrical product safety regulation and accordingly, adapt it to the current online market environment.

ESA Response: The ESA will work with the MGCS, federal partners and stakeholders in this regard. Phase 1 includes research and undertaking a review of the Product Safety Regulation (Ore 438/07). Phase 2 and 3 depends on the outcomes of Phase 1.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Phase 1 of 3 — Deliver a report on the review of current regulation and framework. Assess whether regulatory changes are required to implement the recommendation.

On Track

Phase 1 Target Completion — 2023
Phase 2 Target Completion — 2024-2025
Phase 3 Target Completion — 2025 & beyond

 

AGR19.1: To enhance electrical safety, we recommend that the ESA conduct a review, and develop and implement a plan to target the sale and use of unsafe electrical products in Ontario.

ESA Response: ESA is in the process of conducting a review of its product safety program and, in consultation with federal and provincial regulators and stakeholders, developing a renewed Product Safety Strategy.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Develop and execute a high-level Product Safety Strategy in collaboration with key stakeholders.

On Track

Target Completion — Spring 2022

 

AGR19.2: We recommend that the ESA dedicate sufficient resources to review and follow up on all reported cases of unsafe electrical products being sold in Ontario 

ESA Response: As part of the renewed Strategy, ESA will review its resources and update its processes to ensure that there is a robust mechanism for reviewing and following up on reported cases

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

In December 2020, ESA launched a new database that tracks reported unsafe electrical products being sold in Ontario.

Complete a business case to dedicate resources to review and follow up on all reported cases of unsafe electrical products being sold in Ontario.

On Track

Target Completion — Summer 2022

 

AGR20.1: To be more responsive to the public in providing timely information on electrical safety, we recommend ESA train staff to respond accurately and completely to all calls with technical questions and assign a sufficient number of employees to this responsibility.

ESA Response: ESA will conduct a review of the methods by which it shares technical information with the public and manages technical questions to ensure that these methods are effective and will train staff accordingly

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Establish a knowledge base of existing publicly available technical information for public access and offer staff training on how to access and share this information.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2021

 

AGR20.2: We recommend ESA review its policy to increase disclosure of information to callers about licensed electrical contractors’ past performance and licence status.

ESA Response: ESA will also review the categories of information about licensed electrical contractors that are disclosed to the public.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Assess policy on disclosure to callers about licensed electrical contractors’ performance and status, and revise where necessary.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2021

 

AGR20.3: We recommend ESA review the disclosure provided with respect to licensed entities by Technical Safety BC, and work with stakeholders to identify categories of additional information to be publicly disclosed on licensed electrical contractors.

ESA Response: ESA will also review the categories of information about licensed electrical contractors that are disclosed to the public.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Review disclosure provided by Technical Safety BC and work with key stakeholders to identify categories of information about licensed electrical contractors that should be disclosed to public.

On Track

 

AGR21: To provide Ontarians with complete and transparent information about the state of electrical safety in Ontario, we 
recommend that the ESA annually report the results of its investigations of electrical safety incidents, its operational information and complete product safety information after it has been reviewed for accuracy.

ESA Response: ESA will continue to look at ways to provide objective and accessible information about its operations and the state of electrical safety in Ontario as part of its Annual Report and Ontario Electrical Safety Report.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Undertake a review of other jurisdictions and assess current reporting to provide information about its operations and the state of electrical safety in Ontario.

On Track

Target Completion — Summer 2022

 

AGR22: Replacement of the CEO Board position with a consumer representative.

ESA Response: ESA will work with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to implement the governance changes necessary.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Consideration of bylaw changes, recruitment and appointment of a consumer representative, supplementary letters patent, and updates to the Board Charter and Board Approval processes.

On Track

Target Completion — Fall 2021

 

AGR23.1: Establish a documentation and record-keeping process for the appointment of new Board members.

ESA Response: ESA will review its Board appointment processes to confirm that measures are in place to ensure independence as well as retention of appointment documentation. A Board member Training and Development Plan is already in place, which includes education on the importance of Board independence from management.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Create a Board Appointment Procedure guideline document.

On Track

Target Completion — Summer 2021

 

AGR23.2: Establish a process to ensure Board members are independent from ESA’s management.

ESA Response: ESA will review its Board appointment processes to confirm that measures are in place to ensure independence as well as retention of appointment documentation. A Board member Training and Development Plan is already in place, which includes education on the importance of Board independence from management.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Create a Board Appointment Procedure guideline document to supplement our Board member Training and Development Plan.

On Track

Target Completion — Summer 2021

 

AGR23.3: Publicly disclose the salaries of all its Board members.

ESA Response: ESA will comply with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services’ direction regarding disclosure of Board member salaries.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Pending direction from the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services.

On Track 
Target completion — Fall 2021

Subject to timing for Bill 159 implementation.

 

AGR24: To ensure that ESA's non-mandatory services are not interfering with its responsibilities under the Acts, we recommend that the ESA work with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) to more precisely define and agree on the scope and level of review work that is required to be performed when engaging a third-party consultant.

ESA Response: This is a joint recommendation with the MGCS. ESA will work with the MGCS towards more precisely defining the scope of future third-party consultant engagements.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Provide MGCS with a summary outlining ESA’s current operations and procedures for when an  external consultant is sourced for the purpose of evaluating the delivery of non-regulatory activities to determine if there is an appropriate level of detail and clarity.

On Track

Target Completion — Spring 2022

 

AGR25: Establish outcome measures and performance targets for the ESA that focus on cost efficiency and safety in the electricity sector.

ESA Response: This is a joint recommendation with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS). ESA will work with MGCS to review the Administrative Agreement and performance targets that focus on cost efficiency and safety improvement in the sector.

Action Taken Next Steps Status & Timing

Work is underway and will be reported next quarter.

Work with MGCS to establish outcome measures and performance targets that focus on cost efficiency and safety improvement in the sector.

On Track

Target Completion — Spring 2022