Canadian Contractor

Cape-able Contractors

Should contractors have a license?

May 16, 2012
By Robert Koci
Robert Koci

By Heidi Filici

In Cape Breton, Nova Scotia contractors anxiously await the verdict of a licensing bylaw that is currently in the works. Rick Fraser, the chief building official for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, says the licensing bylaw will provide an equal playing field for all.

He believes the requirements under the new bylaw should include requiring renovators to own a particular contracting license, provide warranties and ensure a certain quality of work. He says this will protect homeowners from being held liable under home insurance policy for any injuries workers may face on their property. The reality is some contractors may not have sufficient amounts of overhead to ensure the safety of their employees.

The proposed licensing bylaw will be brought before a licensing steering committee and from there it will be subjected to a public hearing. Councillor Kevin Saccary, who is against the draft bylaw, argues that this may leave many contractors out in the cold. Fraser disagrees and is pushing to have this regulation in place by next year.



Heidi Filici is a freelance writer based in Toronto and a part-time contributor to Canadian Contractor.


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2 Comments » for Cape-able Contractors
  1. Lionel says:

    Licensing would be valid if it weren’t just a way for the local government to get money for nothing. There are licenses for hot dog vendors, this doesn’t mean that one vendor is better than another, it’s just a way local governments add revenue to their coffers. There does need to be some sort of way to control “out of control” contractors that don’t carry liability insurance or WSIB, and put their clients and employees at risk. There also needs to be stiffer penalties for companies that do not adhere to these guidelines as well as the fly by nighters who give good contractors a bad name buy doing shoddy work or by “taking the money and run” scenario. We need to keep educating the public to hire contractors with good reputations, like ones who are members of the BBB, and to look for and ask for proof of insurance and not only go for the lowest price out there.

  2. Renovators in the City of Greater Sudbury are required to obtain a $10 renovators license in order, and get this, to obtain a building permit. No license, no permit. So, most work is done, you guessed it, without a permit. And the end result? Even title insurance has issues with covering transactions in our municipality.
    What we need is a provincially mandated licensing scheme that is tied to a tax rebate. Hire a licensed contractor, and you are eligible for a tax rebate on your renovation work, no matter the size. Make licensing conditions stringent enough (insurance + wsib + finances) and add some mandatory education like Tarion is starting to do, and you will have a license that will mean something. A provincial license should be difficult enough to get that you wouldn’t want to risk losing it.
    In the short term it may drive prices up, but it will weed out those people that are not serious about the business.
    I feel that as renovators, we should take steps to put such licensing together before it gets mandated by the government.

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