Canada: Ontario Government Introduces "Energy Consumer Protection Act "

Last Updated: January 28 2010
Article by Stephen Andrews

Most Read Contributor in Canada, September 2016


On December 8, 2009, the Ontario Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, Gerry Phillips, introduced the Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2009, ("Bill 235") that would amend several statutes, including the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998, The Electricity Act, 1998, The Consumer Protection Act, 2002 and the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006.

The purpose of the proposed legislation is to provide additional protection for energy consumers and to allow for greater energy conservation through suite metering in multi-residential buildings.

Bill 235 is divided into five parts: Part I deals with definitions that apply in the Bill as well as new powers for the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure. These new powers include: the authority to distribute educational information and the power to provide consumer information about alternative dispute resolution options that may result from contract disputes.

Part II of Bill 235 provides a new regulatory framework around electricity retailing and gas marketing. It gives energy consumers new rights in respect of contracts or agreements with retailers or marketers.

Part III deals with suite metering and the requirements for the installation of suite meters in multi-residential buildings and the manner in which energy consumers are billed for their electricity consumption.

Part IV contains a wide range of new regulation making powers for Cabinet which affect retailers, marketers, LDCs and suite meter providers. This includes marketing or retailing contracts, formats for disclosing information, unfair practices, installation requirements of suite meters, and the provision of energy consumption information.

Part V deals with the detailed amendments to other legislation affected by Bill 235.

In summary, Bill 235 contains additional measures that are designed to:

  • Protect consumers from hidden contract costs, excessive cancellation fees and "negative-option" contract renewals
  • Provide greater fairness and transparency for consumers through rate comparisons, and plain language contract disclosure
  • Enhance the ability and rights of consumers to cancel contracts
  • Create a new licensing and training regime that includes mandatory oral disclosure and ID badges for energy retailers
  • Enable individual suite metering in apartment buildings
  • Grant the Ontario Energy Board more authority to set policies on security deposits and termination of electricity procedures by local distribution companies.

Amendments To Existing Legislation

As noted above, Part V of Bill 235 contains detailed amendments to the Electricity Act, 1998 and the Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998 among other related statutes. Below is a summary of key amendments.

Consumer Protection Act, 2002

  1. Subsection 2(4) of The Consumer Protection Act, 2002, that deals with electricity and gas marketers, is repealed. Consumer protection in respect of energy consumers is now in Bill 235.

Electricity Act, 1998

  1. Where an LDC or suite meter provider requires a security deposit for the payment of charges related to electricity, certain requirements must be met.
  2. Section 31, dealing with termination of service, is repealed and remade. In Bill 235 it takes into account and creates conditions for, and exemptions to, the power to shut off electrical service by LDCs.
  3. Additional regulation-making authority is added to section 114 of the Act (distribution connections, classes of properties, and consumers).

Ontario Energy Board Act, 1998

  1. The Minister may issue Cabinet approved Directives to the Ontario Energy Board ("OEB") in relation to gas and electricity retailing or marketing. These Directives may require the OEB to amend retailers' license conditions as well require third party verification of contracts.
  2. There are changes to the provisions under which gas distributors may terminate service or require security payments.
  3. Part V.1, Energy Consumer's Bill of Rights, is repealed and replaced with a new Part V.1, Gas Marketers and Retailers of Electricity – Standards and Audits.
  4. Part VII.0.1, Investigator and Investigations is added to the Act. This gives the Chair of the OEB the power to appoint persons to act as investigators to enforce compliance with the requirement of Bill 235.

Key Elements Of The Energy Consumer Protection Act, 2009

Below are key elements of Bill 235 as set out in background materials to the Bill:

Energy Retailers


Proposed Solutions

Sales person practices

  • Immediate verbal disclosure and ID badges
  • Sales person training and other standards

Consumers don't have the information they need to decide; language barriers

  • "Plain language" contract disclosure statement available in various languages

Verbal contracts (usually on phone); Contracts not with account holder

  • "Text-based" contract and signature required
  • Only the utility account holder or others specified by regulation can sign energy retailer contracts for a household

Consumers feel pressured into signing a contract

  • Three possible cancellation alternatives: a 10-day cooling off period; upon third party verification (within 10-60 days of signing contract); and 30 days after receipt of first bill

Unfair cancellation policies and fees; automatic renewals for gas contracts

  • Prevent excessive cancellation fees or in some instances, any fees - such as when people move or accidentally sign a second contract
  • Eliminate negative option renewals

Electricity Retailer / Gas Marketer Accountability

  • Additional licensing conditions for retailers, including individual sales person training and background checks
  • An assurance fund to assist in covering potential losses for Consumers
  • OEB randomly audits retailers
  • Improved officer and director accountability

"Fixed contracts" don't clearly disclose all costs or offer products promoting conservation

  • Energy Retailers required to clearly show all charges Timeof- Use products can be required

Suite Metering


Proposed Solutions

No framework to install suite metering in rental apartment buildings

  • Enable mandatory installation in new residential buildings; voluntary installation in existing buildings

No rules for individual billing in rental apartment buildings

  • Consent required from sitting tenants
  • Establish a framework for rent reduction if a tenant agrees to suite metering
  • Prospective new tenants given prescribed information on suite energy use

Suite-metering companies not subject to the same rules as local distribution companies (LDCs)

  • Suite-metering providers subject to rules paralleling LDCs concerning fee regulation, licensing, security deposits and disconnections

Tenants can't control major energy efficiency factors in their suites such as windows or appliances

  • Landlords required to meet certain energy efficiency standards for appliances and suites

Deposits And Disconnections


Proposed Solutions

Gas and electricity companies work under different rules regarding invoices, disconnection and security charges

  • OEB can regulate disconnection and security deposits for both electricity and gas companies, such as mandating alternatives to deposits or requiring specific standards for disconnections for vulnerable consumers
  • Government can regulate utility bill requirements, for example, requiring the inclusion of information that would help consumers manage their energy use

Public Consultation And Next Steps

Background material for the proposed legislation has been posted on the Ontario Environmental Registry for a 60 day comment period. The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure will be collecting comments though the Environmental Registry until February 6, 2010. In addition, Bill 235 will be referred to a Standing Committee of the Legislative Assembly for further consultation early in January, 2010. The proposed legislation is expected to pass into law in the session immediately following the recess on December 10, 2009.

About BLG

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.