Mandatory One-Call Law Passes in Ontario

Ontario Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) from all three provincial political parties worked together in the spirit of collaboration to pass Bill 8, Ontario Underground Infrastructure Notification System Act, 2012 (Bill 8), a move that makes Ontario the Canadian leader in safe digging practices.

The final passage of Bill 8 on June 13, 2012, in the Ontario Legislature will lead to the implementation of a single ‘One Call’ system in the province that will make it easier for Ontarians to find out the location of underground infrastructure before they dig.  Membership in the existing system is voluntary, and at times, Ontarians were required to make up to 13 separate calls to obtain this important information.  All too often, this confusing process led to people digging without contacting local utilities for the location of underground wires, cables and pipes, a scenario that could be extremely dangerous or even deadly.

A streamlined system, similar to that outlined in Bill 8, exists in all 50 U.S. States. As a result, these States have seen a reduction in damages to underground infrastructure by as much as 70 per cent since implementation. The Ontario Regional Common Ground Alliance (ORCGA) estimates that annual damage to underground infrastructure currently amounts to more than $39 million, resulting in unnecessary costs to Ontarians on their utility bills and property taxes. Damages also result in lost revenue and lower productivity and efficiency for businesses of all sizes in Ontario.

Although some regulators of buried utilities require their regulated companies to belong to a provincial One-Call system, membership in One-Call systems across Canada is largely voluntary.  Realizing a One Call System serving every province in Canada and Mandatory One-Call legislation are two of the CCGA’s goals and it is hoped that Ontario’s success will lead other provinces to follow the same path.