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Ontario One Call can now fine excavators

By Ontario One Call   

News Government and regulatory excavation fines

Ontario One Call, a regulatory agency conducting “call before you dig” checks for underground utilities, has gained the authority to issue fines to excavators who violate its rules. A new regulation, effective April 1, 2023, will provide Ontario One Call with the regulatory capability to issue administrative penalties for non-compliance with prescribed provisions of the Ontario Underground Infrastructure Notification System Act, 2012, including digging without locates or not delivering locates within specified timelines. Fines for digging without a locate can be as high as $10,000 per day.

The penalties are not new, but Ontario One Call assessors can now levy them at their discretion and without a complaint from a third party.

According to the One Call press release, for many years performance of locates by underground infrastructure owners/operators has declined, causing excavation project delays and slowing the pace of important construction activities, including new housing, transit and broadband projects.

Ontario One Call is an administrative authority that promotes safe excavation in Ontario (Click Before You Dig) and facilitates locate requests by excavators. The organization operates a web platform and contact centre that relays locate requests from excavators to underground infrastructure owners across the province. Last year, it processed over one million locate requests and sent over seven million notifications to municipalities, telecommunications, gas and utility companies to provide locates for the infrastructure they own or operate.


“Ontario One Call will be implementing this new regulation in a very thoughtful way, relying on existing compliance tools to encourage locate performance improvement over time,” said Jim Keech, president and CEO of Ontario One Call. “In so doing, our objective is to usher in a new era of collaboration between industry participants that delivers industry performance improvement and allows projects to be completed on schedule. As such, our focus remains on ensuring individuals are aware of their responsibilities under the Act and working with them towards a common goal of compliance with the law. As a result, One Call will make every effort to educate individuals on their responsibilities under the Act, with penalties used only where appropriate in the exercise of independent discretion by Ontario One Call’s assessors appointed under the Act. The service we provide is vital and protects people from harm and infrastructure damage. We work closely with excavators and infrastructure owners to encourage locates be delivered on time. We have an important role to play in supporting Ontario’s appetite for growth.”

“Ontario One Call plays a vital role in the success of the province’s construction activities,” said minister of public and business service delivery, Kaleed Rasheed. “Not only does the organization help educate the public about the need for safe digging practices, it plays a key role in helping the Ontario government deliver on some of its most critical infrastructure commitments such as new home construction, building better public transit and laying the infrastructure for high-speed internet in underserved areas. Expanding Ontario One Call’s compliance tools can help support construction in Ontario by getting locates done safely and more quickly, helping the province deliver on the many infrastructure projects that are helping Ontarians and fueling our economic growth.”

Details of the rules, penalties and dispute resolution framework can be found on the One Call website.

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