Canadian Contractor

John Bleasby   

Five days in jail, $40K fine for unlicensed “electrician”

Canadian Contractor

Faulty pot light installations put homeowners at serious risk

A Brampton, ON man felt the full force of the law two weeks ago, penalized for installing pot lights in several area homes while falsely representing himself as a licensed electrician and without an Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) inspection. David John had been promoting both himself and his companies as “licensed electrical contractors” specializing in pot light installation, using flyers, signs and on-line advertisements. John was sentenced to five days in jail and ordered to pay a $40,000 fine.

The ESA played a key role in the investigation and the laying of charges. The ESA is an administrative authority acting on behalf of the Government of Ontario, responsible for enhancing public electrical safety in Ontario, and administering specific regulations related to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, the licensing of Electrical Contractors and Master Electricians, electricity distribution system safety, and electrical product safety.

Scott Saint, ESA’s Chief Public Safety Officer and Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, is pleased with both the court ruling and the penalties assessed

The Authority feels harsh penalties were appropriate
In an ESA media release, the authority expressed satisfaction with the harsh penalties handed out in the ruling. “We are very pleased to see that the court has sent a strong message which we hope will deter others in the underground economy who might consider working outside the law,” said Scott Saint, ESA’s Chief Public Safety Officer and Vice President of Regulatory Affairs. Although witnesses in court also mentioned cash transactions taking place, Saint could not confirm whether John was operating on a non-tax basis.

Anonymous tips led to the charges
John’s companies had been in the ESA’s cross-hairs for the last two years, thanks to an anonymous tip, Saint told Canadian Contractor. “We always follow up on anonymous tips at the Electric Safety Authority,” he said. “We found eight other installations attributable to him going back a couple of years, laid the charges before the courts, and have been pursuing him through the court system ever since.”


Upon inspection, John’s work was in fact found to be improper and deficient, resulting in a licensed electrical contractor having to make corrections. The severity of the penalties therefore reflected court’s view of the very real dangers posed to the unsuspecting homeowners. “There has to be a strong message and deterrent for those who put public safety at risk”, Saint told Canadian Contractor. John himself was not present in the court at the time of sentencing.

A bad reputation, readable on-line
Operating under the names Kenchiku Development Inc., and Skiookum Developments, John’s M.O. should have been well known to potential clients. Kenchiku Development’s Facebook page contains comments from past customers such as, ‘Bloody took my 7000 dollars. Hope God punish him worse,’ and STAY AWAY FROM THIS COMPANY! It’s a scam and David is a CROOK! They will take your money and not come back plus is a terrible job!’

Unlicensed work exposes risks for homeowners and contractors
Homeowners and contractors who hire unlicensed, ‘handyman-style’ electricians run several risks, even for installations as relatively straight-forward as pot lights, Saint explained to Canadian Contractor. One is a fire risk from faulty installations or the selection of the wrong type of pot light in a combustible area that can result in a fire starting above the ceiling out of sight. Another risk is electrocution from incorrect wiring. Saint recalled a case where a metal switch box became live when hot and neutral wires were reversed somewhere in the circuit. The homeowner was killed when he touched both the box and a metal sink. “Electricity is unforgiving and lethal. It doesn’t usually give you a second chance,” Saint says.

These types of installation problems can go undetected because an unlicensed electrician cannot take out a permit, and therefore cannot get an ESA inspection of the work done that will catch deficiencies, Saint explained. “When a licensed electrician gets a job, they get a permit, there is an inspection, and we issue a certificate.” This certificate should be something the homeowner should request, either directly from the electrician or from the contractor. In larger projects, the contractor, of course, absorbs these risks and therefore has a responsibility to ensure that all trades on the project carry the correct licenses and tickets.

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13 Comments » for Five days in jail, $40K fine for unlicensed “electrician”
  1. Steve Lair says:

    Perhaps we should be giving a fine to the customer as well. Not just to the unlicensed electrician.

  2. Oliber says:

    That’s why long ago I asked for electrician’s and other compulsory trades people to have a license photo ID or a drivers license incorporated with it, no need for alphabet soup agencies. Under the ministry of trades should that be done, a full compulsory trades people does not need inspections on his or her work. Costumers can have the change to identify the real ones from the crooks. If they allow them selves to be defrauded should that be their fault no body else.

  3. Klaus says:

    The article starts – “A Brampton, ON electrical contractor felt the full force………..” That’s an insult to licensed contractors everywhere that are licensed, insured and take out permits. There’s no way this guy should be referred to in this way.

  4. al joyce says:

    its about time this is very real in the sauble beach area .college of trades dont do anything to stop it. all they do is take our money from good honest tradesman northern bruce peneinsula is just as bad if not worse than sauble beach every truck at these places are usually jobs done by unlicenced trades people .

  5. I Love this, I am a fully licensed electrician, and I am always fixing bogus work done by hacks! I am glad they stuck it to this guy, yes send the message out!

  6. Oliber says:

    Hi all Joyce, The liberals turned Ontario into a messy place, when politicians want to touch in every issue, they only create a mess, in special compulsory trades people. The Liberals opened the doors of hell in this province, they are insane, no way of understanding anything, everything they had touch turned into a debt messy up, I wonder why there insn’t any criminal charges on them? why honey for some and vinegar for others?

  7. Marko Polo says:

    There is no positive or negative wires in ac electricity. Only hots and neutrals. Just pointing that out. Lol

  8. Vinay says:

    These types of unlicensed Electricians are risk to Society. Spl. Some fake colleges who are giving wrong training to unexpreinced trade people and with wrong hours challenging the IP exams and helping them to getting tickets. Spl, in Surrey . These people even donot have English knowledge.,no basic knowledge. ITA has only three exam,. Safety Authority has two sets.Everybody knows about Exam questions and answering these college help them.Vancouver,Richmond.Spl. Surrey is full of inexperienced Electricians
    Suggestion:-ITA and safety authority should make more exam sets to stop the trade go down.

  9. Vinay says:

    Hi scootSaint.
    Can you send me your email or phone no. We will let you know these types of other deficiencies in the system . And try to help in provide better unrisk life of citizens from bad Electricians

  10. jerry says:

    need to look reason behind the unlicensed trade. why they are in the market? because customer always looking cheap electricians then jack of no trade get a chance to make $$. in my case i notice majority of time trades do mot use common sense and they look what trade is more money making cow then they they learn just very basic stuff and try to learn at customers expense . i guess need to check certification or referral before anyone hire a Electrician.

  11. Oliber says:

    How many politicians gone to jail for screwing up? Apparently they can do what ever they want, free ride to waste our tax dollars no accountability whatsoever, no fines no jail, nothing, politicians are the ones accountable for the mess about trades and much more.

  12. Mike says:

    I truly believe that misrepresenting your qualifications should cost the offender. Sometimes the definition of qualified here in Ontario is not based on your skills or accomplishments but rather on your willingness to pay fees. I have heard of ESA charging a master electrician for doing work on the side because he was not listed as a licensed electrical contractor. This is not right. I am beginning to think that the Ontario ESA is becoming a self sustaining fee collection enterprise rather than a organization focused on safety.

    Going to jail for this infraction would only make sense if the work was done poorly and without regard to current codes.

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