Contractors – Administration & Compliance

Where do I have to display my ECRA/ESA electrical contractor licence?

You must prominently display your ECRA/ESA electrical contractor licence number in all correspondence, contracts and advertisements, on business vehicles and in all situations where you communicate with the public. This includes Yellow Pages ads and websites. You must do this within 90 days of the date on your licence.

Do I have to place my Electrical Contractor number on my vehicles? What is the standard size and location?

Yes, Ontario law requires that electrical contractors prominently display the licence number on your business vehicles within 90 days of the date on your licence. The number should be at least one inch (2.54 cm) high, and located on the back or both sides of the truck.

What is ESA doing about unlicensed contractors doing electrical work?

Our whole purpose is safety, and the underground economy is a big concern. Our enforcement includes:

  • Pursuing prosecutions, fines and jail time through the courts. Convictions send a clear message that risking public safety has serious consequences;
  • Publicly sharing Administrative Penalties and convictions. This reminds consumers and contractors about the consequences when you don't hire Licensed Electrical Contractors.
  • Programs that identify commercial renovation work being done without filing an electrical notification;
  • Intercepting illegal online advertising;
  • Public awareness campaigns. These increase awareness of the law to hire a licensed electrical contractor. People who see our ads are almost twice as likely to hire a licensed electrical contractor; and
  • Issuing Administrative Penalties to quickly address illegal electrical work. This sends a clear message that engaging in illegal electrical work will no longer be economically viable.

Why don’t you go after every unlicensed contractor?

There are many safety hazards in the underground economy, yet enforcement efforts take up considerable resources. As a result we historically pursue action through the courts where we have a solid case, a strong likelihood of conviction, and can have the greatest effect on safety.

As of April 1st 2023 we will have the ability to issue Administrative Penalties to address safety hazards identified in the underground economy. This new compliance tool will allow us to go after unlicensed contractors more efficiently and effectively.

Why do our licensing dollars get spent on enforcement?

Unlicensed contractors pose a safety risk and take jobs away from Licensed Electrical Contractors. We enforce regulations to create a safe, fair, competitive marketplace, one where everyone is playing by the same rules.

That’s why we aggressively pursue prosecutions, fines and jail time for those doing unlicensed work. Convictions deliver a clear message that putting public safety at risk has serious consequences. 

Awareness campaigns remind the public that hiring a licensed electrical contractor is the law. In fact, people who see our ads are almost twice as likely to hire a licensed electrical contractor.

Why aren’t fines higher than they are?

Court-ordered fines have been steadily increasing and are significantly higher than they used to be. They now average many thousands of dollars. We have also successfully secured jail convictions.

Note that the Ontario courts set and collect fines. ESA does not receive any of the funds.

Do you have a database for contractors who have been found working without a permit?

Yes, we have an extensive database. ESA tracks warnings and notices to maintain a history on contractors, and we regularly update our files. We refer to this database for upcoming investigations and/or prosecutions. Convictions of unlicensed contractors and Licensed Electrical Contractors are posted on ESA’s website.

What do you do when you find an unlicensed contractor doing illegal work?

After identifying illegal work, ESA issues a Notice of Violation to the unlicensed contractor. This notice clearly states that the contractor did not follow the Electricity Act requirements and must stop all electrical work immediately.

A number of factors determine whether we issue an Administrative Penalty or start an investigation with the intent to prosecute. For example, prior notices prove the contractor knew the law and refused to follow it. Repeat offenders may receive larger administrative penalties or fines as a deterrent to performing more work without a licence. This is why we track all occurrences and maintain a history of all complaints.

Does a Designated Master Electrician have to be on a work site?

No, the Designated Master Electrician (DME) does not have to be on site. They do need to ensure that electrical work meets the requirements of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. They are responsible for direct supervision and personal planning. The Guideline to the Duties and Responsibilities of Licensed Electrical Contractors (LECs) and Designated Master Electricians (DMEs) gives examples.

Licensed Electrical Contractors must have at least one Designated Master Electrician, but that doesn’t mean there has to be only one. Think about how many you need to provide the direct oversight your company needs.

What does ‘direct supervision’ mean?

Direct supervision is one of the duties of a Designated Master Electrician. This involves monitoring the activities to ensure work is done in a way that keeps consumers and workers safe. It must meet the Occupational Health and Safety Act requirements.

Can a Designated Master Electrician be responsible for several sites at the same time?

Yes, a Designated Master Electrician (DME) can be responsible for several work sites at one time. The DME must be capable of ensuring that all work done at these sites complies with the Code and that safe work practices are being followed. Think carefully about how many DMEs you need to provide the direct oversight your company needs.

Why might ESA block a contractor’s account?

ESA does not take blocking a contractor’s account lightly. This is a last resort when all other efforts to resolve an issue have been taken. There are four reasons:

  1. DEFECT BLOCK: This may occur when a contractor continually ignores defect correction timelines or requests on multiple sites. The Inspector has the discretion to recommend a block. For Life and or Property defects, the Inspector will act quickly.
  2. CREDIT BLOCK: A credit block takes place when there has been a non-payment and the account has moved into collection, and/or the company has declared bankruptcy.
  3. LICENSING BLOCK: A licensing block means a failure to submit declaration forms, pay licence fees, or submit full licensing package (which takes place once every five years).
  4. CREDIT LIMIT INCREASE BLOCK: This may occur when contractor is temporarily over a credit limit and unable to file notifications of work.

What is the process for blocking a contractor’s account?

It depends on the reason for the block. In each case, we give the contractor multiple written and verbal notifications that the account has been blocked. ESA makes every attempt to provide contractors with advance notice that their account has been blocked.

More information on Account Blocks.