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On June 4th the Regulatory Reconciliation and Cooperation Table (RCT) operating under the Canadian Free Trade Agreement (CFTA), posted its 2019-20 work plan to the CFTA website.

In 2019, the RCT addressed industry concerns about duplication between provinces in the CRN registration system for pressure vessel equipment design, by removing redundant and expensive reviews for participating jurisdictions.  Building on this progress, the new work plan promises to work towards removing numerous other barriers to trade, investment, services, and labour mobility.

Of special concern to the HVACR industry will be the RCT’s focus on harmonizing energy efficiency regulations and building codes as well as a new commitment to ensure the existence of prompt payment legislation and associated regulations in all provinces (by 2021) and harmonized gas technician certification requirements (by 2020).

Regarding building code, the RCT recognizes that

…the timely adoption and implementation by provinces and territories of construction codes is variable. Provinces and territories base their codes on national code content for building, fire, plumbing and energy efficiency. Jurisdictional variations to the codes remain in terms of scope of application and special requirements. Policy and historically driven variations in each jurisdiction to the construction codes results in barriers related to the manufacture, operation, inspection, education/training, design, cost, mobility of labour, recognition of use and certification for products, process or activities regulated by these codes for industry, trades, professionals, local governments, international jurisdictions, regulators, the public and others. Variations also occur where provinces and territories are not harmonized to changing construction codes in a timely manner.

This recognition of the need for timely provincial adoption of codes is a welcome breakthrough on an issue that has troubled the industry for many years.  Similarly, on the matter of energy efficiency regulations at the provincial level, the RCT acknowledges that

Discrepancies between federal and provincial energy efficiency requirements for household appliances can impose unnecessary regulatory burden on industry. Currently, federal energy efficiency regulations are lower than some provinces, but aligned with others. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is responsible for administering the Energy Efficiency Act and Regulations to set and enforce minimum energy performance standards for energy-using products, such as labelling requirements. Household appliances are typically manufactured outside of Canada for the larger North American market.

The government expects to see reconciliation agreements in place for building code and energy efficiency regulations later in 2019.

New to the list of regulatory reconciliation priorities is a focus on harmonization among provinces and territories on the requirements for certification as gas fitters/technicians (by 2020):

The harmonization of Gas Fitter A and B (also known as gas technicians) would streamline and harmonize a range of public policy practices and technical standards applied across jurisdictions to the common workforce and provide more efficient and cost-effective services. The end result would be that those certified as red seal gas fitters would be mobile across jurisdictions and not encounter the barriers that currently exist through various licensing regimes. The principle would be one certification, one license.

A final item of interest to the HVACR industry is a commitment by the RCT to address discrepancies in the existence and application of prompt payment legislation across the country:

Prompt payment legislation sets timelines by which construction contracts need to be paid and creates a dispute resolution mechanism to efficiently deal with disputes. This legislation’s purpose is to improve the financial stability within the construction industry. Aligning approaches will reduce unnecessary administrative burdens that otherwise might indirectly defeat this purpose. As other jurisdictions consider prompt payment legislation, there may be opportunity at this early stage of development to align regulatory approaches.

While the inter-provincial regulatory cooperation agreements that come out of these initiatives are not meant to undermine provincial jurisdiction in all of these regulatory areas, the agreements embody strong commitments from provinces and territories to work toward a harmonized regulatory landscape across the country.  HRAI will be sure to watch for progress on these files, but it is becoming clear at this early stage in the rollout of the Canada Free Trade Agreement that the government is listening to industry and moving quickly to correct the longstanding problems arising from the provincial patchwork of regulations.

For more information, contact Martin Luymes at 1-800-267-2231 ext. 235, or email mluymes@hrai.ca.