Canadian Electrical Industry News Week

November 12, 2021

EIN ESA Grounded 400Soussanna Karas, Director of Licensing at ESA, breaks down the risks of the underground economy and the tools to combat unlicensed and unpermitted electrical work.

In her four years with the Electrical Safety Authority, Director of Licensing Soussanna Karas has seen hundreds of cases against unlicensed contractors performing electrical work. Statistics Canada estimates the “underground economy” is over $16 billion dollars in Ontario alone and residential construction remains at the top of that list. That’s why Karas works with a team to educate homeowners and licensed electrical contractors alike on how to eliminate unlicensed and unpermitted electrical work.

“In the licensing department, all of us are passionate about safety,” said Karas. “I doubt you’ll find anybody more dedicated to pursuing the underground economy than folks in my department.”

In this episode, Josie Erzetic chats with Soussanna Karas on how to identify and report underground electrical work. And, Karas will help guide licensed electrical contractors on the best ways to protect their own licensure.

Go HERE to listen or subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts

How to identify and report unlicensed contractors

One of the easiest ways to identify the underground economy at work is by noticing what’s missing on the invoices, estimates, advertisements or the contractors’ vehicle: an ECRA/ESA licence number.

As a licensed electrical contractor, you are required to put your ECRA/ESA number on the truck or van that belongs to you and is on the road. If there’s no number on a vehicle or an advertisement from a contractor, that should be a huge red flag — and something that should be reported to the ESA. 

“If you do see somebody who you suspect might be doing unlicensed electrical work in your neighborhood, or anywhere that you pass by, please do use our anonymous reporting tool on the website,” Karas urged.  “You don't have to identify yourself, but we do ask you to put all the information that you see and as much detail as possible so that we can identify and follow up.”

Since April of last year, Karas and her team have received hundreds of leads about potential non-compliances that they review and follow up on. They’ve been able to pinpoint certain areas that are more at-risk to be completed by unlicensed contractors.

“One of the trends that we just recently noticed is the increasing number of pot light installations. And some might say, ‘Well, what's the big deal?’ But it is a big deal. I can tell you that we received 81 online complaints regarding pot light installations, and it's covering 174 locations. That is a staggering number,” she said.

When Karas receives reports of unlicensed work, she pulls out her number one weapon against the underground economy: education. She starts by trying to help the non-compliant person understand their mistake and how they can become in compliance.

“We want to make sure that if it's a one off, we are showing them understanding and education. If it's something serious and a pattern, then we escalate and take more serious steps,” Karas said.

99% of all prosecutions conducted by ESA are against unlicensed electrical contractors.

“We want to make sure that the public knows, and those who are in the underground economy know that we are looking into this and we are serious about this.”

Protecting yourself against the underground economy

Licensed electrical contractors are at risk to be taken advantage of by the underground economy. Many times, Karas has found that unlicensed contractors will fraudulently use licensed professionals’ ECRA/ESA numbers without their consent.

In these instances, there is no notification of work being filed, putting both consumers and the reputation of LECs at risk. That’s why you have to be careful of who you share your business license with. 

“My message to you, our listeners, is to make sure that if you entrust somebody to advertise on your behalf, that there are mechanisms to review and control those advertisements so you’re not taken advantage of.”

It’s also important for LECs to be wary of subcontracting practices. All of the electrical work on behalf of a licensing electrical contracting business must be done by employees on the payroll. That way, each worker will be covered by liability insurance and WSIB protection.

On the other hand, if you enlist the help of an unlicensed electrical contractor, you’re putting your business at risk.

“If you hire somebody who doesn't have a license and who's not on your payroll, there are many risks to your reputation, safety, defects, and injury that's not going to be covered by insurance.”

Listen to the full episode to hear even more of Kara’s additional advice on keeping in compliance with ESA’s licensure guidelines.

What’s Your Breaking Point?

SimPRO Industry Bundled Program

If you’ve ever learned how to ride a bike, a surfboard or even tried your hand at yoga– you know how difficult it can be to find balance. You can focus on a fixed point in the distance and shift your weight around all you want. But at the end of the day, there are often things out of your personal control that can send you tumbling.

We’re all experiencing what it feels like to be thrown off our balance right now with looming economic uncertainty. If this uncertainty has already impacted your business, you’re not alone. How can your business continue to thrive in the face of challenges out of your control?

 

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2021 Canadian Electrical Code Overview of Changes

EIN CSA Group Logo 2022 400CSA C22.1:21, Canadian Electrical Code, Part I contains many updates and changes that are potentially significant to electrical professionals. This online, self-guided course provides the key changes and impacts to the industry presented in an easy-to-follow format.

 Designed for professionals with a good working knowledge of the Code and who solely need the key changes including general updates or those made for clarification, safety, and new products and systems. Key changes due to Rule relocation or deletion are also noted.

This course may help save valuable time to help keep electrical projects safe and in compliance. This training is developed with input from a broad cross-section of electrical industry experts and with cooperation from all provinces, territories and several key jurisdictions across Canada. 

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Yukon Canada

Communities across the North and Arctic are prioritizing cleaner, more reliable energy sources, as they continue to feel the impacts of climate change. By investing in renewable energy initiatives that support energy independence and economic development, we can keep our air cleaner and build resilient, healthy communities for everyone to call home, all while creating good-paying, sustainable jobs and lowering harmful greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The Yukon is leading the country in its pursuit of cleaner energy and climate change initiatives. 

 

 

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Linde

Linde announced it has inaugurated the world's first hydrogen refueling system for passenger trains in Bremervörde, Germany.

Linde’s hydrogen refueling system, which it built, owns and operates, will refuel 14 hydrogen-powered passenger trains, enabling each train to run for 1,000 km emission-free on a single refueling. It has a total capacity of around 1,600 kg of hydrogen per day, making it one of the largest hydrogen refueling systems ever built. Linde’s future-ready hydrogen refueling system has been designed and constructed with the ability to integrate future on-site green hydrogen generation. The new hydrogen trains will replace existing diesel-powered trains.

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Chris Lane

The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) Board is pleased to announce the appointment of Chris Lane of Johnson Controls to the CABA Board of Directors. As Director of Product Management for Building Automation System (BAS) products at Johnson Controls, Lane leads a team of product managers responsible for designing the strategy and direction for Johnson Controls’ global portfolio of BAS products. 

"I’m honored to have the opportunity to join CABA’s board and support their vision to empower connectivity among people, spaces and technology,” said Lane. 

 

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Canadian Electrical Contractor Discussion Group: Can You Count the Deficiencies?

EIN CECD 400Have you ever been called to fix the work of a 'handyman'?

"Was supposedly done by a"certified ' electrician....told the homeowner that he got a $266 permit....no record at TSBC. Can you count the deficiencies?"

"There is a second panel change in the triplex also.......even more deficiencies. Think the guy was a glorified handyman. Ones not obvious: 240 BB heat hooked up 120....drier on 2p20....range on 2p50....water heater fed with 2c14 Bx on 2p15."

Go HERE to join the discussion

 


 

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