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Contractor Frequently Asked Questions

The following Q&As provide information about core ESA processes.  The Contractor Advisory Council – an advisory body made up entirely of LECs – provided ESA with questions that a new or prospective LEC might have.   These Q&As can be also used as a refresher for veteran LECs.


1. When is an inspection required?

Most electrical work requires a permit from the Electrical Safety Authority. Permits must be taken out by the party who is doing the work. An electrical “permit” (also called an Application for Inspection) needs to be taken out before or within 48 hours of when the electrical work starts.


2. How do I apply for a permit?

You can submit your applications for inspection online. The online system is available for users 24/7 and allows users to submit applications, make credit card payments online, check permit status and other information relevant to your account. You can sign up for an account today.  Contact our Call Centre at 1-877-ESA-SAFE (1-877-372-7233) and a representative will set up your account.

ESA application forms are also available here. You can email your application to or fax your application to 1-800-667-4278.


3. How do I buy the Ontario Electrical Safety Code?

The 26th ed. of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code (Code) is available through the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) website. Click here to buy it.


4. How is the Code updated?  How can I provide input to make changes?

Changes to the Code are made through technical committees formed nationally with members including licensed electrical contractors, consulting engineers, manufacturers, etc. at both the provincial and national level. Suggestions for changes to the Code can be made at any time. Appendix C of the Code describes the revision process in more detail.  When the Code is revised, ESA notifies all LECs and MEs and provides the proposed changes on our website for review and comments prior to finalizing changes.  If you’d like to provide suggestions outside of this window please submit them through our General Inquiries page.


5. What is an ESA account block?  When is an LEC’s ESA account blocked?

An LEC’s ESA account can be blocked when:

  • An LEC doesn’t correct defects within a certain amount of time
  • An LEC doesn’t renew or abide by the conditions of the electrical contractor licence
  • An LEC doesn’t pay wiring or licensing fees

LECs are given multiple advance written and verbal notifications, and attempts are made by ESA to obtain payments and discuss arrangements to correct defects or make payments before accounts are blocked. Life and/or Property Defects are granted a specific amount of time for repair for public safety reasons. 


6. What is the Authorized Contractor Program or ACP?

The Authorized Contractor Program (ACP) provides selective inspections (not all electrical work receives a one to one ESA inspection) and pre-authorized service reconnections for specific repetitive electrical installations. LECs and qualified installers who demonstrate consistent compliance with the Ontario Electrical Safety Code (OESC), based on current practices and previous work, and have a sufficient volume of applications are eligible for ACP.  Learn more about ACP here or contact the ACP Office by phone at 1-800-249-4583 or by email 


7. What is Plan Review? When do plans have to be submitted to Plan Review?

Plan Review is a general review and audit of a set of plans for a specific project, submitted for review as per the requirements of Rule 2-010 of the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. Plan Review is also the name of the department at ESA that performs the review. 

Electrical work on any electrical installation can’t start until plans have been submitted and examined by the Plan Review Department where the electrical installation involves:

  • a three phase consumer service or stand by generation, equal to or in excess of 400 Amp circuit capacity;
  • a single-phase consumer service or stand by generation equal to or in excess of 600 Amp;
  • a feeder greater than 1000 amp;
  • any installations involving consumer owned electric power generating equipment, with a rating in excess of 10 kW (Micro Size) as defined by the OEB, and operating in parallel with a supply authority system; or
  • any installation operating in excess of 750 volts, excluding:
    • installations of pole lines exclusively within the scope of Section 75; or
    • that portion of an underground installation between a supply authority owned transformer and the related supply authority owned switch; or
    • equipment replacement as described in Rule 2-010(4)


8. When are GFCIs/AFCIs required?

GFCIs are required for exterior outlets, bathroom outlets, and in new kitchen construction/renovation where receptacles/outlets are being installed within 1.5 meters of the edge of any sink (wash basins complete with drain pipe), bathtubs or shower stalls.

Circuits that supply bedroom receptacles have been required to be protected by AFCIs since 2002. The 2015 Code expanded the requirements to include most other areas of the home, including outdoors. The new OESC also requires “combination type” AFCIs that protect wiring within house walls and connected electrical cords against the unwanted effects of arcing.

For more information on AFCIs, please refer to Bulletin 26-18-*Arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) in a dwelling unit.


9. What is a bulletin?  Does it override the Code? 

Bulletins are typically technical documents in nature, issued by ESA to provide clarifications and interpretations to the Code requirements. Bulletins sometimes also provide easements and published deviations to the Code requirements.


10. What is a defect? 

There are three kinds of defects:

  1. Life and/or property (L&OP) defect – An ESA Inspector determines that the electrical installation does not comply with the OESC and presents a high likelihood of shock or fire.
  2. Defect - An ESA Inspector determines that the electrical installation does not comply with the OESC; however the deficiency does not present a high likelihood of shock or fire. The ESA Inspector determines that the non-compliant installation represents moderate risk. This includes wiring defects and administrative defects.  Administrative defects are a non technical in nature.  An example would be no access to the work site.
  3. Warning Defect – An ESA Inspector determines that the electrical installation does not comply with the OESC however the likelihood of shock and fire is low or the likelihood of exposure is low. The ESA Inspector determines that the non-compliant installation represents low risk.


11. How do I dispute a defect?

As of July 3, 2018, ESA added an escalation process (Defect Notice Dispute Resolution Process) to provide both stakeholders and ESA more time to discuss issues when they arise. Individuals who wish to discuss the outcome of inspections against whom the Defect Notice or another Notification was issued are encouraged to first discuss it with the Inspector involved. Unresolved issues or concerns may be further discussed with the Senior Inspector, the Technical Advisor, and the General Manager. If a resolution is not achieved through the Defect Notice Dispute Resolution Process and an ESA Order is issued, the person named in the Order may, within 15 days of the issuance of the Order, request the Review of the Order by the Statutory Director. Further, the person against whom the Defect was issued may request ESA to issue an Order with respect to the Defect. The issuance, or non-issuance of an Order triggers the procedural right enabling an aggrieved party to initiate the formal Review process, which may in some cases result in an appeal before the Review Panel. More information on the appeals process.  


12. I have more questions.  How do I find answers?

If you still can’t find the answer you’re looking for, you can contact us at 1 (877) ESA-SAFE (372-7233) or through our general inquiries web page.

ESA also has FAQ pages set up for different topics.

Click here for Code FAQs

Click here for Licensing FAQs

Click here for Administration & Compliance FAQs

Click here for Plan Review FAQs