The HVAC industry succeeded last fall in getting a clarification from the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities (MTCU) on the matter of accessing the electrical panel. Director of Apprenticeship Rob Easto concluded that refrigeration mechanics (and residential AC mechanics) are trained sufficiently to do limited work in the electrical panel (in residences only) in a safe and competent manner.
This interpretation was challenged late in 2006 by the electrical contracting sector, which has alleged that HVAC contractors are not properly qualified to do this work and that it should only be done by licensed electricians. The outcome of this issue will have an impact on the requirement imposed by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) for any contractor who applies for electrical permits (including HVAC contractors) to be registered under their new Electrical Contractor Registry Authority (ECRA). Registration with ECRA currently requires that contractors employ a Master Electrician. If the MTCU decision stands, this requirement for an electrician will be removed for HVAC contractors. The ESA agreed to extend the registration deadline (originally January 1, 2007) indefinitely, pending a decision from the MTCU. HVAC contractors are still awaiting a final decision.
In March, electrical contractors (led by the Ontario Electrical League) initiated an aggressive letter-writing campaign, urging member contractors to write to their MPPs with the message that public safety will be threatened if HVAC contractors are permitted to do this work.
Meanwhile, ESA has reaffirmed that their approach to the HVAC sector will continue to be “business as usual” until a decision from the MTCU is received. According to Peter Marcucci (ESA Vice President, Regulatory Affairs):
“Until this decision is made and implemented, ESA will continue its current practices associated with the issuance of permits to HVAC contractors. Once a decision has been made with respect to the licensing requirements for HVAC contractors we will provide the appropriate direction and allow time to make any needed transition.”
Expert Building Inspections Ltd